Passing real world tests by killing creativity less successfully
Posted July 25, 2012on:
I was thinking about how testing and grading were contributing to things like competitive tuition syndrome here and the race to the bottom in the US.
I was also wondering why politicians and policymakers were hitting the panic button when students in their countries did not do well in international tests like TIMMS and PISA. Was it really possible to draw a straight line from grades to economic success?
I seriously doubted it as there are many more important factors that contribute to the well-being of a country. Put another way, who cares if your students are not test-smart but are world leaders and world beaters in various fields?
In short, Yong Zhao illustrated how there was a negative correlation between test scores like PISA and entrepreneurial indicators. A country whose students did well in tests would not guarantee economic success.
But correlations do not explain phenomena. Low test scores do not cause high entrepreneurial capability. The numbers do not reveal truths, but neither do they lie. They merely hide deeper issues that need to be explored and explained.
Yong Zhao did this by asking and answering three questions in his keynote:
- What matters more? Test scores or confidence?
- Are you tolerant of talent? Do you allow it to exist? Do you support it?
- Are you taking advantage of the resources you have? Or do you impoverish yourself in the pursuit of test scores?
I think he had one statement that practically addressed all three questions. In explaining why US students did poorly in tests but well on the world economic stage, he said:
Creativity cannot be taught… but it can be killed. American schools don’t teach it better. We kill it less successfully.
Our schooling system pins creativity to the ground and mindless tuition applies the coup de grâce.
I wish we could be less successful killers of creativity too…