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View Diary: A response to Tom Vilsack (148 comments)

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  •  Since I graduated from college (4.00)
    I have never been required to take a multiple choice test for any job in 20 years of my professional career.

    I have however been challenged to make decisions based on disperate information and to draw solid conclusions about how to proceed.

    Just because it is easier to grade a multiple choice exam using computer software does not mean that the testing or the training for the testing actually teaches kids how to live in this world as full and complete adults.  What ever happened to our culture of essay contests and science fairs?  We have lost the empasis on independent and creative thinking that any culture that seeks to be innovative requires.

    BTW TeacherKen I went to Burgundy for a time.  It was the antithesis of this new standard of teaching and what I learned there in 2nd to 5th grade set me up to have a 99% average in biology in high school.  Hanging with the goats, chickens and plants was an effective introduction to science.

    •  Burgundy Farms School in Alexandria (none)
      is a fascinating place.  My wife attended a somewhat similar school, the School in Rosve Valley (In Pennsylvania).

      It is a clear example of how different models of schools work well for different students.  One of our problems is our insistence on standardization --  children ae not standard, which means if we are going to serve them, schools, curricula and teachers also cannot be standard.

      For what it is worth, when I bake cookies (rarely), I shape them by hand.

      Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH!

      by teacherken on Sat Oct 08, 2005 at 07:14:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It was a great place (none)
        and I think it still is pretty cool.  You know that it was started by Eric Severied and his wife in the 50's and was an integrated school from the start.

        Overall, it was a really good school - I went from there to Marin Country Day in CA which was much more structured - there were some issues of adjustment not the least of which was my born again English teacher who only lasted a year ther...  But looking back the combination of the two - highly structured and less structured actually did a lot to prepare me for the world - the world as we know does offer both very structured and very unstructured experiences.

        If I were designing an educational model, I would try to do both.

        I was posting a comment above that got lost - this rain is really hard on my dsl connection - but it was about how in my industry which is production I really have a hard time finding young talent that are prepared for the controlled chaos in which we work.  Some of that is personality profile and work ethic, but some of it is a lack of people who aren't reliant on someone giving them the three choices on a multiple choice test.  I need people who can independently identify the three, four, five, ten choices and then to make deicisions based on numerous pieces of information.  Multiple choice testing does not prepare people for that kind of career.  The weird thing is that the opportunities for kids who can't or don't go to college are huge - good pay and good prospects - but if they come out expecting that someone will give them all the answers they have a hard time excelling in production.

    •  Bogus line of reasoning (none)
      "since I graduated I've never had to..."

      That doesn't really matter, does it?

      Most people, after they graduate, never have to analyze a sonnet, never have to balance an equation, never have to play a violin or march in the marching band. (Alas, some never have to think after they graduate.)  But that doesn't mean these are not good things for students to do.

      I know, your point is about multiple choice tests.  But testing is a part of school, and there is nothing wrong with a good, well designed multiple choice test, if it is not the only means of assessment.  

      The Republican Party: Redefining Oppression for the 21st Century

      by daveriegel on Sat Oct 08, 2005 at 07:44:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  With a multiple choice test a student (4.00)
        is given the possible answers to the test - the student is not challenged to find the answers.  Analyzing a sonnet is a far better exercize for bringing out the critical thinking skills that life requires.  I am not saying that multiple choice tests should go away all together - but if that's all ya got - I think you are crippling kids because they are going to expect someone to give them something to pick from rather than developing their skill in figuring out what the choices are and for that matter what the question is.  So I don't think it is bogus at all.
         
        •  Right You Are! (none)
          Our overuse of multiple-choice is based on the concept that knowledge is a transferable thing.  Information may be so, and one's command of information can be tested in this fashion.  But knowledge is not.  Knowledge is based on discovery and thought as much as on information... and the abilities to discover and to think can never be gained through the mastery of information.
        •  I don't disagree (none)
          I don't want to get into the position of defending multiple guess, because I don't like them either and find them overused, even though they are necessary on occasion.  But I was responding to the "I don't have to do it in real life" line, which I took literally as you used it above.  

          I get really tired of students and parents telling me they won't use certain knowledge or skills in the so called real world... immediate application of a skill is not as important as the habits of mind that are developed.  From your answer above I don't think we disagree on that.

          The Republican Party: Redefining Oppression for the 21st Century

          by daveriegel on Sat Oct 08, 2005 at 08:10:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I would imagine that we agree (none)
            I was an art history major - and boy do people think that is a waste of time - but here is what I gor out of it that I apply daily: writing skills, research skills, a survey of history, sociology, economics, anthropology, the psychology of visual stimulation, science and most importantly critical thinking skills.

            My office mate at my first real job out of college went to Tulane as an under grad business major.  I had to teach her how to write and how to do research and I was amazed she had gotten that far without learning how to write a sentence.  We were in PR at the time and writing was a key element of the job.  She spent four years in college writing "marketing plans".  To use an art history metaphor, she was never schooled in the basics of how to draw classically before they tried to make her Picasso.  The thing was that she bacame a decent writer over time which meant that the education system had failed her and not the other way around.

      •  what i like to call (none)
        THE BROCCOLI DEFENSE!

        Do this because it's good for you. I don't necessarily hate multiple choice tests. Especially if they are the kick-ass multiple multiples. You know...is it:

        A & C

        B & C

        or

        A & B?

        Just to establish things like facts or to make sure students are clear on specific concepts or definitions. Use multiples to reinforce that stuff before moving on to the higher order thinking stuff. (knowledge --> analysis)  But on analyzing poetry or playing an instrument, you are learning so much more...things that are higher up on the Bloom's Taxonomy of thinking and learning. Things could very well apply to any number of real-life situations. Will you be forced to analyze poetry under the threat of death? Well, hopefully not. But will you have to analyze any number of situations and draw meaning from them during your lifetime? Sure as hell.

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