A culture of testing

The dominant culture of education has come to focus on—not teaching and learning but—testing. Testing is important. Standardized tests have a place, but they should not be the dominant culture of education. They should be diagnostic. They should help.

If I go for a medical for a medical examination, I want some standardized tests. I want to know what my cholesterol level is compared to everybody else’s on a standard scale. I don’t want to be told on some scale my doctor invented in the car…

But all that should support learning. It shouldn’t obstruct it, which of course it often does. In place of curiosity, what we have is compliance. Our children teachers are encouraged to follow routine algorithms, rather than excite that power of imagination and curiosity.

Sir Ken Robinson discussing how standardized testing can encourage teachers to ignore the diversity among their students and kill kids’ innate curiosity.

Standardized testing has been a bit of theme for me lately. I have more reading and listening I need to do on the subject, especially on the way standardized tests are used here in the UK. I’ve said before that I’ve thought about opting my son out of standardized tests, but it’s worth remembering that, used in the right way, they do serve a purpose.