Why don't we do more pre-testing?
Scott McLeod, J.D., Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Kentucky. He also is the Founding Director of the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE), the nation’s only academic center dedicated to the technology needs of school administrators, and was a co-creator of the wildly popular video series, Did You Know? (Shift Happens). He has received numerous national awards for his technology leadership work, including recognitions from the cable industry, Phi Delta Kappa, and the National School Boards Association. In Spring 2011 he was a Visiting Canterbury Fellow at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Dr. McLeod blogs regularly about technology leadership issues at Dangerously Irrelevant and Mind Dump, and occasionally at The Huffington Post. He can be reached at scottmcleod.net.
When I moved to Iowa from Minnesota, the Iowa Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) didn't test me before it issued me a driver's license. It took into account my long history of driving and my clean record and determined that I did not need to take either a written or driving test. I did a quick vision check, took one of those goofy photos, and I was all set.
Imagine, however, if the MVD, before it would issue me a license, wanted me to sit through a series of classes intended to 'teach' me how to operate a car and drive safely. I would have been completely annoyed. 'Test me now!' I would have exclaimed vociferously. 'I already know how to do this! Stop wasting my time!' By now you're probably nodding your head in agreement, knowing that you'd do the same thing in my situation. Although you'd rather not have to do the written and driving tests again, you'd definitely rather be tested than sit through hours of instruction on material you already know.
Unfortunately this is exactly what happens to our nation's schoolchildren on a daily basis. Millions of students regularly experience curricula and lessons that address content and concepts with which they're already familiar. It's not just the 'talented and gifted' kids; there are plenty of students who know the material in a particular learning unit before they even start. They're just never given the chance to demonstrate their knowledge ahead of time. Nor do they have the opportunity to request to be pre-tested.
What a colossal waste of time this is. Rather than the joy of wrestling with and thinking about new material, students suffer through yet another hour 'learning' old information. Rather than working with children who are eager, interested learners, teachers suffer through yet another group of disengaged students.
I wonder why we don't care more about this? It's one thing to cover the required curriculum. It's quite another to have students cover the curriculum despite the fact that they already know it. As a former eighth grade teacher, I know how difficult it is to differentiate instruction. But it's relatively easy to do some simple pre-testing and at least make an attempt at altering a 'one size fits all' lesson plan. If more teachers did this on a regular basis, they might be surprised at how much instructional time they gained back during the year. And of course they'd also have better baseline data with which to assess student learning growth for each curricular unit. And did I mention the message of respect for students that accompanies the practice of pre-testing?
Why don't we do more pre-testing? Why is it so hard to get teachers to buy into this?
Swiss researchers identify new dangers of modern cocaine.
- Cocaine cut with anti-worming adulterant levamisole may cause brain damage.
- Levamisole can thin out the prefrontal cortex and affect cognitive skills.
- Government health programs should encourage testing of cocaine for purity.
Civil discourse has fallen to an all time low.
The question that the American populace needs to ask itself now is: how do we fix it?
Discursive fundamentals need to be taught to preserve free expression
In their findings the authors state:
upholding First Amendment ideals.
Talking politics at Thanksgiving dinner
- Progressive Activists: younger, highly engaged, secular, cosmopolitan, angry.
- Traditional Liberals: older, retired, open to compromise, rational, cautious.
- Passive Liberals: unhappy, insecure, distrustful, disillusioned.
- Politically Disengaged: young, low income, distrustful, detached, patriotic, conspiratorial
- Moderates: engaged, civic-minded, middle-of-the-road, pessimistic, Protestant.
- Traditional Conservatives: religious, middle class, patriotic, moralistic.
- Devoted Conservatives: white, retired, highly engaged, uncompromising,
It's interesting to note the authors found that:
"Tribe membership shows strong reliability in predicting views across different political topics."
Here are some statistics on differing viewpoints according to political party:
- 51% of staunch liberals say it's "morally acceptable" to punch Nazis.
- 53% of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
- 65% of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
- 58% of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
- 47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.
Here are some guidelines for civic discourse that might come in handy:
- Practice inclusion and listen to who you're speaking to.
Civic discourse in the divisive age
dangerously tribal, fueled by a culture of outrage and taking offense. For the combatants,
the other side can no longer be tolerated, and no price is too high to defeat them.
These tensions are poisoning personal relationships, consuming our politics and
putting our democracy in peril.
Once a country has become tribalized, debates about contested issues from
immigration and trade to economic management, climate change and national security,
become shaped by larger tribal identities. Policy debate gives way to tribal conflicts.
Polarization and tribalism are self-reinforcing and will likely continue to accelerate.
The work of rebuilding our fragmented society needs to start now. It extends from
re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to
building a renewed sense of national identity: a bigger story of us."
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.