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warning! too much testing is hazardous to your health!
April 26, 2001 1:44 PM   Subscribe

warning! too much testing is hazardous to your health! is it just me, or is this silly?
posted by fuzzygeek (30 comments total)

 
Testing kids on what they learned? Are you crazy? It might hurt their feelings...
posted by owillis at 1:57 PM on April 26, 2001


most countries employ testing every semester to make sure kids have learned what they're suppose to. when i started school in the US, i was surprised at the lack thereof. sure they have the ctbs or whatever, but that doesn't effect class promotion. maybe the kids should get more headaches and stomachaches because american children are now fatter than ever.
posted by elle at 2:02 PM on April 26, 2001


That's 'cause we have lots of food. Eat your heart out, third world.
posted by gleemax at 2:06 PM on April 26, 2001


i guess they'll have to (eat their hearts out) seeing there's nothing else to eat.
posted by elle at 2:17 PM on April 26, 2001


"because it it bitter, and becoz it is my heart."
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:18 PM on April 26, 2001


So I'm left to wonder if this is really even news? Kids have always hated testing; educators have become increasingly vocal in the last few years about the fact that standardized tests are biased and poor indicators of actual intelligence.
The only "new" thing I saw in this article was the bit about "stomach-aches," "head-aches," "DEPRESSION?" I'm depressed that this is even news. Give me a break.
And as for Amrican children being fat. It ain't just the kids, folks. Look around. . . .
posted by cpost at 2:30 PM on April 26, 2001


fat, dumb and rich. thank god for amerikkka!
posted by izzytn8 at 2:35 PM on April 26, 2001


well, bring on the testing for the adults too, we all need more headaches and stomachaches!!!

there's also been a lot of reporting on depression as one of the causes of obesity, viruses and your mother are also to blame.
posted by elle at 2:42 PM on April 26, 2001


I think there should be more testing. School in America is too easy. Kids have nothing to lose. It's turned into a right instead of a privledge.

Damned liberals.
posted by SpecialK at 2:49 PM on April 26, 2001


testing encourages kids to memorize the answers! go tests!
posted by dogmatic at 3:36 PM on April 26, 2001


for dogmatic: you only 'memorize the answers' if you know exactly what the questions and/or answers are. to argue what's good for everyoneis pointless because different types of learning are for different people.

i'm 21 and should be totally against tests, but seriously, i'm all for them. i still feel the years i spent in an education sytem with an emphasis on tests were much more productive than the unfocused, blurry grading based on relatively arbitrary methods of individual teachers. but that's only because i kick ass at tests.

consider this:
academics have little to do with 'the real world' (debatable,) so who cares about the material really? why school then? to learn them some sense of responsibility? to ease them into the stress of the world? again, debatable.

if the material isn't all that important, let them memorize answers. at least they'll learn to work under a deadline. if they do want to learn it , provide some sort of measuring device for them so they'd know exactly what they've learn and how much.
posted by elle at 3:55 PM on April 26, 2001


Testing kids on what they learned? Are you crazy? It might hurt their feelings...

In Britain, it's got to the stage that kids are being tested even before they have learn anything to see what aptitude they may have. Soon, Five year olds are going to be getting basic tests, when they aren't even old enough to know that if they can't identify a circle they won't ever get the chance to be an engineer.
posted by feelinglistless at 4:24 PM on April 26, 2001


I don't think the problem is the testing as much as it is the blind reliance upon tests to determine such things as school funding, teacher salaries, etc. Teachers probably teach differently when they learn their take-home pay depends on how well their class tests out. There are many things which impact test performance other than simple "achievement," and relying on standardized tests to do anything other than point out broad trends is a big mistake.
posted by apollo at 4:26 PM on April 26, 2001


Just a lil reminder: it's a well known fact that the suicide rate increases during exams, so yes, tests are stressful and can be hazardous to your health...
posted by kush at 4:39 PM on April 26, 2001


If I ever read any more of this stuff, I-ma gonna quit school and live in a hole. It seems like, with all those studies out there, there isn't really any way to educate anybody.
posted by jeanhank at 5:05 PM on April 26, 2001


it's a well known fact that the suicide rate increases during exams...

link, please...

This is like a doctor telling me, who is fat and out of shape, that I shouldn't exercise, because my muscles will ache afterward.
posted by jpoulos at 5:10 PM on April 26, 2001


jpoulos: this should be a good start...
posted by kush at 5:25 PM on April 26, 2001


kush, for shame. If you're going to post something suspicious, have the courtesy to do your own research to back it up. (Longstanding tradition on alt.folklore.urban, for example: he who makes the claim is responsible for proving it. Not that somebody else won't necessarily help, but you can't put that responsibility on your opponent.)

My grandfather (prof of math & education) was involved in some of the studies that led to the SAT. During the first wave of skepticism (ca. 1978) he wrote an impassioned defense in a letter to one of the top mathematics journals. I wasn't sure I agreed with him then, and even less so today.

Testing has its uses but an over-reliance on them leads to a rigorous, stratified educational system, and we already have too much of a problem in that regard. We could turn ourselves into the kick-ass test-based educational systems that Japan and India have, but those also have extreme levels of determinism that is unacceptable in a mobile society like America, and at least in the case of Japan, have not led to a notably innovative society. Whatever we do we should be sure we're keeping true to our values.
posted by dhartung at 5:40 PM on April 26, 2001


Yes, but look at our country and who is doing the innovating in the sciences? It's the people who came from Indian, Chinese, Japanese education systems which emphasize testing.
posted by gyc at 6:15 PM on April 26, 2001


urgh. how can one consciously attribute innovation to any ethnic group in this country? Even if this premise were valid -- why don't we see more scientific innovation coming out of India, China, and Japan?
posted by jamie at 6:28 PM on April 26, 2001


I'd like to see non-anecdotal arguments for *that*--I mean, yes, there are lots of Chinese and Indians in the sciences here (I teach in an engineering school, so I'm familiar with the trend), but how do you determine who is doing the innovating?

I'm also familiar, as a teacher, with (a) how hard it is to make valid tests, and (b) how some things just don't lend themselves well to testing as an evaluation method. Just because tests evaluate people "objectively" (meaning what, exactly?) doesn't mean they're not "arbitrary." If all we cared about was objectivity, we could measure students' heights.
posted by rodii at 6:28 PM on April 26, 2001


"In Britain, it's got to the stage that kids are being tested even before they have learn anything to see what aptitude they may have."

I'm reminded of the scene near the beginning of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (movie version) where Charlie's sitting in class, and his teacher says...

"I've just decided to switch our Friday schedule to Monday, which means that the test we take each Friday on what we learned during the week will now take place on Monday before we've learned it."
posted by CrayDrygu at 8:14 PM on April 26, 2001


how much do we really care about educating each individual kid if we don't find out how each of them learn best.

instead we dump the same half-assed shit on every kid and walk away feeling well we've done our job.
posted by elle at 8:39 PM on April 26, 2001


how much do we really care about educating each individual kid if we don't find out how each of them learn best.

personally i would argue that it's the educator's responsibility to create an environment that the student can take advantage of to learn. i don't think it's the system's responsibility to force the child to learn -- if a child doesn't want to learn, it's a waste of time and energy and resourced to try to force them.

but of course, if a student doesn't do well in school, it isn't their fault. heavens, no!
posted by fuzzygeek at 10:37 PM on April 26, 2001


The biggest problem with standardized testing, as I see it is the standardization. The larger the bureaucracy is that enacts it (local/state/federal), the less specific it is to the cirriculum that the teachers may be using which forces them to teach to the test. This eads to teachers not teaching the material they'd like to teach in the way that might reach their students the best, but rather teaching their students how to take the test. This is a big difference between testing as a useful means of evaluation and testing as the only metric of evaluation for the entire educational system. When standardized tests are being used to grade not just how well the students are learning, but how well the teachers are teaching, how effective the administration is administrating and how well the school board is, er, boarding, whether or not the teachers/principals will return and how much funding the school will get for the next year. With so much riding on the standardized testing, the pressure is on the teachers to just teach the test.

It's not that standardized tests are bad, it's just that too much is being pinned on them, making them too high-stakes.
posted by andrewraff at 8:19 AM on April 27, 2001


A heavy emphasis on testing as a universal measure of academics has also led to a number of cheating scandals.
posted by harmful at 8:41 AM on April 27, 2001


fuzzygeek: see my second post re:forcing kids to learn.

i'm merely saying testing is right for some kids just like it's wrong for others. for those who have no interest in academics i'd rather they not be in school wasting their time at all.
posted by elle at 10:59 AM on April 27, 2001


>>for those who have no interest in academics i'd rather they not be in school wasting their time at all.

I actually take the opposite view: I think going to school for academic reasons is a waste of time. Virtually everything you need to know is already written down somewhere, so why spend $100,000 to go to college when you can acquire the same knowledge for free by taking books out of the library?

The answer is that people go to college for nonacademic -- and largely social -- reasons: to drink beer, network, and so on. The role of college as a social club is more or less primary.

You might object that learning sometimes requires "one-on-one" interaction with experts, and so on, and not only book learning. True, but professors are by and large quite accessible to the general public. Most professors spend a good number of their office hours alone (except around exam time) and would be delighted to meet with anyone with the slightest interest in their niche specialty, whether or not officially enrolled as a student.

The foregoing applies to higher education, but if anything it's even more true of secondary education. The goal, there, is explicitly "socialization" -- a process that encourages obedience to authority rather than the skepticism that is a prerequisite to rational inquiry.

In any case, when I think back on my high school years, I think of good times with my friends, and not any of that rubbish about the founding fathers.
posted by johnb at 12:14 PM on April 27, 2001


I actually take the opposite view: I think going to school for academic reasons is a waste of time. Virtually everything you need to know is already written down somewhere, so why spend $100,000 to go to college when you can acquire the same knowledge for free by taking books out of the library?

I did that for years, basically K-12 I spent ignoring classwork and learning whatever I felt like (and picking up random stuff on philosophy and political science from my father). But if you actually have a good teacher, it can increase your appreciation of a subject more than just reading about it ever could. How many textbooks tell you that the Puritans never went away, they just moved to Hudsonville? (West Michigan joke. haha.) ... a good teacher encourages even a lazy-ass like me to work my hardest, adds new meaning to the subject, makes everything interesting.

Admittedly, I never had one of those teachers in fourteen years in public schools, (extra year was dk/pre-k/young fives because I wasn't socially ready and didn't hold my pencil right), it's only at college I've had a great professor, but oh well. That's the ideal, at least.
posted by dagnyscott at 3:32 PM on April 27, 2001


so why spend $100,000 to go to college when you can acquire the same knowledge for free by taking books out of the library?

yet people still expect a grad to come out of school knowing something academic. school connotates academics.

academics is a waste of time if you have no interest in it. people absolutely go to network and drink beer, no doubt. which is why there's something inherently wrong with pushing one format of education on everyone, and assume that everyone gets the same stuff out of it.
but that's what a diploma implies, and why people will only hire college grads.
posted by elle at 8:48 PM on April 27, 2001


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