Saturday, June 28, 2014

Testing.....

We are in the midst of a the testing bandwagon. People from all walks of life continually demonstrate that they know what is best for education. Everyone has an opinion. Often these opinions do not diverge from the experiences the individuals have.There are so many studies floating around concerning testing of students. There are studies that prove that it is needed, not needed, relevant, irrelevant. Studies can prove whatever the researcher desires. The reality is that each child is unique. Each child has different interests and learning styles that are developed over the course of their life. Each child responds in different ways to each situation much like adults do in their working environment. They can build on their experiences or flounder depending on their moods, whims and pressures. Children will never provide the empiric evidence that everyone wants to use to justify education. There are too many variables at play. In testing we lose the individuality of learner. In exchange we get a class model that is not open to experiences and an understanding of these experiences that builds character and a life.

Testing is a teacher centered activity. Teachers have to lead their classes towards the results desired on the tests. To those who believe in tests it is either you can or you can’t do well. And if you can’t do well we will develop programs to make you do better. As well meaning as all these programs are they are not designed to help a child to understand their strengths and weaknesses. They are designed, like the test, to get the desired outcome. Besides, if we are to be teaching divergent thinking, how can one test quantify this? Divergent thinking takes in a lot more information and uses it in many unique and thoughtful ways, something in our test mania world we will overlook in the desire to get the right outcome.

We need to be looking at kids for their individual needs. Too often we try to force them to meet our preconceived notion of what an education should be about. They are unique. We should be allowing students to follow their lines of interest, teaching what needs to be taught along the way so that they can better understand way they are learning. We teach individuals, not classes. Time to move in that direction.