Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Subway Provides a Lesson about Testing

Joshua Bell
When I was at ISTE 2011, I attended Steven Kalmon's session with the dry title of "Assessing Progress toward Digital Age Learning."   Its an important topic, actually.  As employers more greatly value skills like creativity, initiative, problem solving, and collaboration with team; how do schools' assess progress in those skill areas?

Conventional testing does not remotely measure these things.  How could one use a multiple choice test to gauge a group experience in problem solving?  Kalmon set the table with a fascinating video recorded by The Washington Post.  The extraordinary violin virtuoso, Joshua Bell goes down into a D.C. subway, opens the case of his Stradivarius and begins to play exquisitely.  Folks simply pass him by.  Now of course some, might have no ear at all for the violin, but clearly most admittedly peg Bell as a street musician/beggar and simply can't "hear" the brilliance.  Check it out:

Here's the deal:  Policy makers, administrators, parents, and teachers who see all manner of "objective testing" -- the kind they have been socialized as being legitimate - are likely to be oblivious to the critical talents their students may be acquiring.  Of course the greater possibility is they are reluctant to change open up their ears because they do not design the kinds of activities to allow the talents to flourish.  Unless we continue to challenge them, they will keep plodding through the familiar routine that has gripped American education for eons.

1 comment:

Lynn Waldsmith said...

I like the analogy Larry. Reminds me of a great old Joni Mitchell song called "Real Good for Free".

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