Over part of my holiday I was lucky enough to explore the Burgundy region of France. It was beautiful and it was nice to spend some time with my entire family for the first time in six years – the wine certainly helped!
On one of the days we went on a wine tour and the guide was asked what vintages were considered good for this region. Like a good salesman, he answered that ‘every year for these grapes are good years!’ The point that he was trying to make is that each year is different. This may be due to the amount of sun the grapes see for that year, the slope of the limestone in that particular plot, the humidity, and the amount of rainfall – the factors are too many to list.
When it comes to considering whether or not a year is a ‘good’ year, it is not necessarily the vintage of the grape (although this can help) but the taste buds of the consumer that decides. People’s tastes are different and it is up to them to decide what they do and do not like. Also, the way the final product tastes one year may not be the same as the next so the wine is constantly changing. Our guide was most unimpressed with the way the some wines are produced to taste exactly the same out of every bottle, instead of individualized each year.
On the car ride back to our accommodation, I began thinking how this can be very similar to teaching. Each student we teach is different and there is no one way (or vintage) that is right for each person. Our future depends on us not producing students that are exactly the same as each other. We are not in an industrial economic age anymore and, as far as ‘intellect’ is concerned, ‘book smart’ people are not the only ones who have valuable ideas to contribute to our societies. There are dangers of confirming to standards and this is something that we need to consider when standardizing education. What we need for the future is not the same version of one vintage, but a variety of vintages each with their different strengths.