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March 16, 2013

My Opposition to Tests

I’m sitting at my laptop typing this as I try to stretch my hand out and relax from the adrenaline rush I just had while I was taking my Environmental Ethics midterm. I have been studying for just about a week now so as soon as I passed in my exam, I was so relieved and excited to fill my time with things that will matter.

Not that tests don’t matter — they do. And that’s the problem.

For the past seven days I have been studying 40 short answer questions that range from: “According to Dwivedi, how did the traditional Hindu caste system tend to protect natural resources?” to “According to Watson, what is the fundamental logical problem with egalitarian biocentrism?”

I memorized the questions and answers so that today when I took the test, I would know what to write in the blanks, but ask me a week, two weeks, a year, or more “What role should “Nature” play in determining what is good or right, according to Mill?”  and I probably won’t be able to tell you.

Now, I should tell you that I love the class. Environmental Ethics has captured my attention unexpectedly. I find it really interesting to learn about different philosophies and how they go together and come apart. AND I got back one of two major papers today and I got an A on it, which I am so excited about because through the rumor mill I heard that an A was unlikely in that class.

Anyway, the problem I have with tests in general is that they are not realistic to real life at all. In life, if you are faced with a challenge at work, there are many resources you can turn to. Why can’t it be the same at school? Instead you stress out leading up to the exam, regurgitate everything you have learned and then clear your head so there is room to study for the next one.

Unlike real life, you have no resources for help, can’t refer to any references, and can’t communicate with other humans. Tests are pretty much the exact opposite of real life challenges. Still, many people are not creative enough to use ethnography as a measuring tool and believe that numbers, specifically from a test will determine way too much in life.

Because I know that I hate tests and that they many times do not show an accurate representation of what I have learned, I try to take classes that evaluate students in other ways. This semester Environmental Ethics is my only class with tests. Green Business Management has case studies and a sustainability action plan due at the end, Entrepreneurial Design Thinking has a lot of projects and presentations, and Creative Actor has an improv performance as an evaluative. These are all great ways to evaluate the class on what they have done without giving a test.

Though there were a lot of tests when I was in high school, I remember sometimes teachers would use debates, skits, or songs as the evaluative. I think those are much more creative, similar to real life, and entertaining for everybody!

I wish I could say that since I have such strong feelings about tests that I would just rebel and not take them, but because they are valued by society, it would affect those things called grades (which are also bad, but that’s a different story). If society as a whole decided that tests didn’t matter anymore, maybe something would happen, but until then I will be inspired by articles like this – a school that refused to take standardized tests.

 

Come on, this is pretty funny.

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