Education and standardized testing

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While looking through Hacker News this morning, I came across an article about the education system in China.  The article looks at the lives of four students within the system and weighs the pros and cons of how things are done at school.

I don’t know much about the education system in China, but there was a paragraph that really struck home with me.

Zhang Xiaolu, a teacher and gaokao grader in Nanjing, adds, “A lot of teachers tell students after they graduate from high school: ‘Please forget everything you have just learned.’ Because the teachers know that what they have taught is useless. A standardized test means standardized thought. I tell students, ‘It stuffs your heads so that you have no time to think about other things.’ This is the policy of keeping people in ignorance.”

I feel exactly the same way.  Standardized testing is pointless.  The kids don’t learn, and then when they are required to know something and apply it to life, they are unable to.  That alone is one of the primary reasons I support homeschooling and why my kids will always be home schooled as long as the situation continues to allow them to be.

Teaching to the test is ridiculous, pointless, and downright dumb.  Yes, there need to be ways to measure how schools are doing, but basing compensation on the results of standardized test only encourages the teachers to teach only what is needed to pass the test itself.

Growing up, we had standardized test.  And we spent the week before the test learning what would be expected of us.  The rest of the time was spent learning things that would be useful in real life.  I do not remember anything that was on the tests.  What I do remember are lessons I learned and experiences I had.  I fully plan to pass those opportunities on to my children so that they can grow in their ability to learn as well.


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