Thursday, January 5, 2012

Pissed off's testing rants

Response log to the lovely Pissed Off Teacher's wonderfully painful and well-expressed essay on test madness:

Good for your kids for coming up with clever ways to "cheat."  If progress is based upon filling in circles rather than on achieving knowledge and understanding, they're behaving exactly as the system is implicitly (explicitly?) telling them to.  Filling in blanks being more important than thinking critically, cheaters will prosper while "non-cheaters" will be the suckers that lose out, unable to understand why their publicly-vaunted honesty and deep thought leads nowhere.

You get what you pay for.  

As ye sow, so shall ye reap.

Public education was created as a dam against revolutionary tides, by requiring families to break their children away from parental love and productive farm labor and send them to school to learn ridiculous Anglo-centric history and civics lessons, coupled with reverential western philosophy and, most importantly, how to subjugate oneself to a prison culture of angry, petty schoolmates and the singular authority of a physically-abusive teacher.  While worthless in a moral sense, this helped create a culture of shared deference to "the rule of law," with respect due the police, army, and business and political leaders, who were--according to the history everyone was forced to learn to have any future--the culmination of human evolution in the perfect western democracy.

Eventually, this system adapted to integrate early mathematics and science training to publicly subsidize the early education of weapons designers, and the engineers, accountants, chemists and psychologists who would develop superweapons, prole-control media, and more complicated legal, tax and administrative structures to keep society nice and docile.

In order to keep up the ruse, the argument "education is good for our children" (which justified the trend of enforced stasis in the first place) education administrators agreed to integrate token arts, music, language and cultural appreciation courses into their curricula.  Once they had that in place, they let it run for a while, then used the budgetary trick to begin trimming these pitifully-underdone things even farther back, toward their eventual doom.

Here in the 21st century, the population has grown large enough that it's no longer a worthwhile investment for elites to continue to fund even a rudimentary "education" for everyone.  It's still important to break the spirit of each new generation by demeaning natural knowledge and empathy, and dampening any imagination of a world that could be better than the freedom to "pursue wealth" and "vote" while obeying the laws and masters of the perfect western democracy(ies), but that just takes authority play, not real education.  Ergo standardized tests: the perfect way to teach nothing at all except stimulus-response obey-authority-by-regurgitating behavior, while providing plausible deniability to administrators who can claim that a test is somehow related to education.

In steps Bill Gates, or Warren Buffet, or Oprah, or any of the other elites, ready to fund private attacks on the last little traces of spirit that might have worked their way into the public school system through the unwanted efforts of wonderful human teachers.  Tests.  Job preparation.  Little armies of drones ready to build missiles, add and subtract figures, obey bosses, and catch the latest movie on the way home.

Fill in the circles completely, killaz.

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