This WashPo column by Marion Brady ("veteran teacher, administrator, curriculum designer and author") enumerates reason after reason to oppose standardized testing, the major educational technique in use in much of the world today. It's such a good (and depressing) list that it's hard not to quote it in its entirety:
Opposition to the present orgy of testing is now wrongly interpreted as unwillingness to be held accountable.
For those who buy that fiction, a list of some of the real reasons for educator opposition may be helpful.
Teachers (at least the ones the public should hope their taxes are supporting) oppose the tests because they focus so narrowly on reading and math that the young are learning to hate reading, math, and school; because they measure only “low level” thinking processes; because they put the wrong people — test manufacturers — in charge of American education; because they allow pass-fail rates to be manipulated by officials for political purposes; because test items simplify and trivialize learning.
Teachers oppose the tests because they provide minimal to no useful feedback; are keyed to a deeply flawed curriculum adopted in 1893; lead to neglect of physical conditioning, music, art, and other, non-verbal ways of learning; unfairly advantage those who can afford test prep; hide problems created by margin-of-error computations in scoring; penalize test-takers who think in non-standard ways.
Teachers oppose the tests because they radically limit their ability to adapt to learner differences; encourage use of threats, bribes, and other extrinsic motivators; wrongly assume that what the young will need to know in the future is already known; emphasize minimum achievement to the neglect of maximum performance; create unreasonable pressures to cheat.
The complete list of problems with high-stakes standardized tests
(via Beth Pratt)
The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party has issued an apology to attendees at a 3-day, $300-400 Conservative Leadership Foundation seminar where attendees experienced sexist epithets, thrown shoes, and denial of food and drink.
MIT has a complicated relationship with disobedience. On the one hand, the university has spent more than a century cultivating and celebrating a “hacker culture” that involves huge, ambitious, thoughtful and delightful pranks undertaken with the tacit approval of the university. On the other hand — well, on the other hand: Star Simpson, Bunnie Huang, and Aaron Swartz. In Nightwork, first published in 2003 and updated in 2011, MIT Historian T. F. Peterson explores this contradictory relationship and celebrates the very best, while suggesting a path for getting rid of the very worst.
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