Friday, August 24, 2007

High School Exit Exams

In regards to the following article:

Students strive for passing grade in exit exam

The negative tone of the article is meant to emphasize just who is it that is failing the test.

People who believe in the power of "common sense" always but always in one way or another believe, "anyone can pass this test, why don't these kids, they must be idiots or defective". The problem is that "common sense" is highly dependent upon where you live, and what time you live. At one time it was "common sense" to believe that diseases were brought upon by God trying to punish people, it was "common sense" to believe the earth was flat, it was "common sense" to believe time was absolute etc. Also common sense is highly dependent upon where you live, it maybe common sense for a sailor to know where the star Polaris is while it may not be for a land lubber. It may be common sense for someone raised in a household where academic achievement and competition is normal to know how to study for a standardized exam. These are not meant to be excuses but explanations.

Unlike the sciences, education is one subject that cannot be approached in a reductionist manner. Educators are always looking for that one program that will magically raise the number of children who pass, when in reality one needs a holistic approach. By holistic I mean you will need to take the child's economic situation, cultural beliefs, approach to discipline and consistency, peer group, parents, study techniques, activities outside of school, and mental training techniques all into account. If any one of these parts is lacking the outcome will not be as good as it could be.

Beneficial cultural values should be taught, retaught and reinforced from a young age. Standardized exams should be given everyday from kindergarten onward. In kindergarten the educators should simply get the kids used to the test and working under timed conditions. In the subsequent grades the educators will slowly increase what is expected from the children, while at the same time, children will be encouraged to think about the standardized exam outside of school. The goal will be to make taking timed tests as something normal for the child, much akin to reciting the alphabet.

Thinking in the patterns expected in the exam should become a way of life, every thought, every action, everyday should be directed towards mastering the subjects and the test taking techniques needed to pass the exam. Also, the child will continuously think of ways to improve the aforementioned. Problem solving, analytical thinking, and test taking tricks and techniques should become part of the child's thought process. Their parents and peer group should also reflect this thinking otherwise the child will quickly fall away. The child will think about this test and other standardized exams all the time, while on the bus, driving a car, listening to music, or watching TV, mastering the test(s) will become akin to the air they breath.

Finally we need patience. People want results yesterday, the problem is that education doesn't work that way, it takes time to build the foundation upon which one can achieve success. Also it takes time to modify the system to achieve maximum results, it also takes time to re-engineer cultural values.

The most beneficial cultural beliefs implicit in the cultural practices of the typical American are:

1. It is not enough to say, one must do.

2. It is not enough to do, one must do it correctly.
It may not be possible to do it correctly the first time around, so it is best to always improve, with the goal of one day doing it correctly.

3. It is not enough to do it correctly, one must finish.
Many people say, do, and do it correctly but never finish. Also it is best to correctly finish everything on time.

4. It is not enough to finish one correctly done project, homework assignment, or correctly read book, one must be consistent in finishing whatever one begins.

5. It is not enough to correctly finish anything one begins, one must have a strategy, path, or system to follow. Basically one must have a set of goals and should direct their actions towards them.

6. It is not enough for one person to follow the above steps you need a sizable portion of the population following the steps.

7. It is not enough for a sizable portion of the population to follow the steps for one generation, the population must follow the steps generation after generation.

To sum up: Everything in your life must be rational, analytical, detailed, thorough, consistent, and timely.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
I've been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

Thumbs up, and keep it going!


May 28, 2010 at 9:12 PM  

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