Saturday, August 27, 2011

Educational Testing: Cannot Inspect Quality in have to Design it in

The Innovative Educator: A Fundamental Principle: No Unnecessary Testing (N...: By Stephen Krashen | Original PDF Summary: Do not invest 4.5 billion on new standards and tests. Instead, work on improving the NAEP to g...

The testing in the education system is inappropriately focused. The students who need to learn something, are tested to assess whether the teachers are doing a good job. Forget the debate what is the purpose of education, what value are teachers? Are teachers doing a good job and should the government be investing in the schools and their personnel? That appears to be the focus of all the testing in education.

Whilst industry needs to know is this person competent to perform this job? Does this person have adequate knowledge to work safely in this job and not otherwise pose a hazard to others. Is this person capable of exercising adequate duty of care and learning what is needed to complete the job, or otherwise seeking the guidance and assistance of more qualified persons?

I always found swot vac, irritating. Who introduced such rubbish? I never wanted time to study and prepare for examinations, nor reading time once in the examination. Just give me the examination, with out warning, if I don't know the stuff being examined then the results will indicate, I have no current interest in the stuff, and no immediate need to know. The examinations are all about someone else wanting others to know, it is not about the individuals need to know. Professions are creating more and more standardized knowledge bases, exacting specifications of the elite members of the profession. But in the process actually diluting and watering down the capabilities of the members of the profession. Most professions were born out of necessity, individuals studying and acquiring and appropriate knowledge base to tackle specific problems. We don't really need members of the existing professions, we need people who can tackle today's problems.

The journey is important with respect to learning, and the important part which leads to quality learning, is the students interest in the learning, the students need to know, the relevance to the student. The problem with education, is that it is about what others believe the individual needs to know. So individuals have their own problems and circumstances to resolve, and schools deny them the opportunity to tackle these issues and force them to study a great deal of abstract irrelevances, with constitute further problem relative to their current needs.

There is need for rigorous training and testing before being appointed to certain tasks, or job functions. but such training and testing should be independent of the learning and enabling process itself. That is education enables, training develops competence and proficiency, and testing determines if the required proficiency has been achieved.

But some one may be a good soldier but that doesn't mean they are good enough to be in the SAS or any other elite group. Similarly there are many people in the work force who are very good at their job, even unaware that there are specialist professional groups in existence, they are too busy getting on with their job to worry about professions. But then circumstances change, they become unemployed, they now need job titles for what they did, a professional classification, and to get a job doing what they were doing a professional qualification. No they become excluded from their area of practice. They end up attending educational institutions supposedly being taught. But the teachers know and understand less than they do: the only advantage the teacher has is the language, the jargon of the profession that obscures communication and understanding to all that are not part of the elite group of the profession.

Knowledge is not a tree, it is a complex network or web, and there is no starting or ending point. We should be enabling the next generation to study from their own perspective, based on seeking answers to their own questions: rather than learning and feeding the known answers back to teachers. They may all start from different points in the knowledge web, and take differing paths through the web, but their breadth of knowledge is likely to converge, whilst their depth of knowledge differs.

To operate in our economy there is a common knowledge base and skill set required. All eventually acquire that skill though not part of any formal education system. Whilst if look at professionals, no matter where their initial education started: science, engineering,  medicine, many ultimately end up with an MBA or graduate diploma's in project management. The relevance of the masters or graduate status is largely irrelevant because many, have learnt such skills and knowledge on the job. So that academic awards are largely about assessing ability with out having actually used that ability in a real world setting.

That is academic awards do not indicate actually ability, but rather potential to demonstrate such ability. All the specification writing, and all the testing and filtering carried out, is not working in selecting the right people for the work that needs to be done. We are simply failing to train the people with the right skills to meet the needs of industry and society. Further their own imagination and creativity are being stifled. That imagination is required to develop new needs, new wants, new desires and new demands in the market. Do not necessarily need innovative designers, just a populace with imagination and needs.

At the extreme if no one desires to build a space colony beyond Pluto, merely just to see if we can, then it will never happen. An education system built on the purpose of creating employees for an industrial machine, which has all the cogs it needs, is of little value. More people need to be leaving school and starting new businesses supplying new goods and services, or providing alternative goods and services to those existing already, but with some innovative twist.

Where there is no issue of public safety, no exacting specification for a job function, then no testing is required. Where exacting specifications are required, then training is important, and training imposes a specific journey of incremental assessment, where you may be eliminated very quickly and never complete the training programme. Training is about developing proficiency and testing competence in realistic setting. Education and learning to acquire enabling competence and foundational knowledge should have been completed before training begins.

You don't train some one with two left feet, and trips themselves up, to be an Olympic sprinter. You train those who have the enabling competence in the first place.

In education, testing should be incremental, and it should be used to change the assistance that the teacher gives to the pupil to enable that person to learn and to encourage such learning.

Testing which concludes the teachers no value and the pupil no value is pointless. If such is so then what is going to be done about it? Teachers have to be able to adapt to the needs of their pupils, to be dynamically adaptive, to use feedback systems and adjust lessons accordingly, designing lessons to suit the needs of the individual. And that may mean that the teacher keeps out of the individuals way.

We have 10 years of compulsory education: the individual can learn as much or as little as they like. The system appears to be biased towards doing the minimum necessary to get through. No need to aim for the academic judgement of excellence, for what value does it have to the majority? Most are interested in getting away from school, attaining a ticket to employment, earning money and pursing their own lives. They don't want to be at school, and they are not with out ability, they mostly consider they are oppressed and constrained unwarrantedly. If the government, the teachers are going to hold the young captive, then better not waste their time in the classroom: teachers had better have something worth while to say: it had better be relevant to the pupils needs. If not then the teachers better get out off the way. Teachers are prison warders, and the students are not wasting the teachers time causing a disturbance, the teacher is wasting the students time. So far better filtering is required on who is permitted to teach.

If education is for the purpose of getting a job, then education is failing. If education is about more than getting a job, then education is failing. Teachers shouldn't be getting credit for the efforts of students. Teachers shouldn't be tainted by the actions troublesome pupils. It is necessary to get the right teachers and pupils together.

If our society is producing, or supplying at any rate, most of what it needs, then it has all the personnel it needs, and so new cogs for the societal machine are just going to be stockpiled in the warehouse until components wear out and need replacing. They will not be able to participate. It cannot be education for jobs, for employment, it has to be education for business, for the market, for survival, for life. What can be tested when it comes to such purpose? Better just keep out of the way.

Then each nation seems to be declaring war on the rest of the world. Like we are in an economic war and have to beat each other. School ground stuff: my nation better than your nation, we lead the world ...

Would be better if we worked together. Not the least of which one major export is education. Like local population diminishing interest in education, but over seas students have interest. Is this because locally we have nothing to develop, the other nations simply developing and building what we already have. Do we not have a future vision, or is it whats the point? We either have too much comfort, or too many constraints on being able to take risks. We have met basic survival needs, but what next? Really get bored to death with sport and the movies? Or can we go explore the depths of the oceans and the outer reaches of space. To climb Everest just because its there.

Just do Coz !  With no point or purpose. Too much rationalizing everything: some things just need to just go do.

Yeh! I get easily side tracked. The web of knowledge has no boundaries. All in the universe is connected.