A Different Thought About Testing

A Different Thought about Testing -

So, indeed the human brain has great capacity for storing memories.  And a great capacity for forming and reforming neural connections and networks. And there are a great number of human beings and each one has a different method for forming memories, associations, and learning.  The potential of the human brain to learn, form new ideas, and test hypotheses is perhaps the most interesting characteristic of what it means to be human. It may not necessarily be just the ability to learn, as we know other animals learn, but it is the immeasurable extent of the possibilities that leaves me dumbfounded.

Let's just say that the human capacity to learn is awesome.  Then, I want to make the statement that this capacity of learning may be core to the human experience - and in fact maybe more related to nature of Freud's "ID" than any other areas of his theoretic model.   Learning is core to the human experience, and it seems as if this ability to learn and problem solve, learn from error, develop new ideas, and then test those new ideas may be the single most quintessential element of what it means to be human.  Our skills in speech and writing are only tools to facilitate real human learning.

Now, I want to suggest that this enormous ability to learn coupled with the enormous variability of the human condition has led so many theorists in a futile quest to measure human potential because we as humans want to know the limits or confines of human learning.  We seek to measure that which may not necessarily be measurable.  

What if we were more interested in charting, not measuring, student work and development?

What if we were more interested in seeing just how far a student could go given the conditions that facilitate learning?  Instead of setting limits which are designed to standardize intelligence, we were more interested in developing student expertise and excellence - in developing skills of creative adaptation and problem solving?

And, what if all that money we have spent trying to organize and classify learning were spent in helping teachers understand that the tremendous variability in student learning was the real challenge - and that dealing with that variability by creating opportunities was the real challenge in education?

Simply put, good educators take the lid off learning constraints by creating opportunities for students.


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