Monday, June 13, 2005

Babe in the woods

Number 2 Pencil has a wonderful dissection of a letter that purports to be from a sixth grader but whose extraordinary fluency in educationist lingo gives rise to skepticism.

The putative babe doesn't like tests. She prefers "authentic" assessments and portfolios. Tests make her nervous and besides they don't reveal "the most important traits of a student," which are moral development, happiness, compassion and enjoyment of learning. I would have thought that "enjoyment of learning" would somehow translate into academic achievement and show itself on tests. But I am wrong.

Kimberly comments on this false dichotomy:

Note: The author here claims that the most important traits of a student are not academic achievement. Instead, that is outranked by enjoyment of learning, and happiness. Pop quiz: Who do you think will be happier as an adult, in the real word - the student who learned to be "happy" in school, or the student who developed a solid foundation in reading, math, science, etc?

For that matter, why is the author assuming these are mutually exclusive? Wouldn't it be fun to produce research showing that the students who learn the most in school and do the best on standardized tests are also the ones who are happiest and have the most love of learning? I'm not saying I know that's so; I'm saying it would be fun to poke at the anti-testing folks with those kinds of correlational results.
Read the whole thing.

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