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Saturday, October 23, 2010

For the Sake of Learning?

Okay, I'll admit it. I have bribed my kids. No - I bribe my kids. "Eat all your vegetables. Then you can have some ice cream....If the basement is clean, maybe we'll go to the movies."  Then something occurred this week that really irritated me. And it occurred it to me, "What kind of lessons are we teaching our kids if we constantly dangle carrots in front of their cute pug noses?"

Our awesome school (and I truly believe in its awesomeness) kindly requested donations to incent students to boost ITBS (Iowa Test of Basic Skills) scores. Most of us reacted with a &*$? Give students stuff to do well on their tests? Shouldn't they want to do well? For the sake doing well?  After visiting with a teacher friend, apparently this philosophy doesn't work. And our sacred school is on a watch list because of the low scores in this particular area. And after thinking about the issue, how different is this act than bribing with ice cream or movies? Not sure.

Last Sunday, our family was having dinner at Applebee's. And talking about getting As and Bs...taking tests and what not. I asked the kids, "So when you miss something on a test, do you know why? Or do you make sure you find out why?"  Cole continued to chow down on his cheeseburger. (I think he had lost interest in the conversation by then.) Alex shrugged and picked up the dessert menu. But my hubby aptly replied, "I just assumed that if I missed an answer, I had guessed wrong."  Touche.

All this talk has worn Percy out.
Perhaps I truly am the geekiest of all geeks. But there's something about the word "academia" that invigorates my soul. And I enjoy (yes, enjoy) the challenge of the TEST! And to see the results? To see if possibly, just possibly, you could achieve a perfect score? What could bring more self-satisfaction than that?  Certainly not an I-tune card. But what do I know? I'm a just a geeky Mom...who needs to bribe her kids to clean their rooms.

2 comments:

CAMprinc1 said...

I enjoy the challenge of a test, however the word "relevance" comes to mind. If you are not intrinsically motivated it's hard to attach relevance to them.

Offering money for grades or performance will yield a one year spike, but even that becomes ho-hum for students if offered consistently.

Tests are also forms of extrinsic motivation like money, we give them a something good for good performance.

Learning is best done without extrinsic motivation, including grades, and there are school who have done away with traditional grading and some in our area debating doing away with them as well.

The funny thing is as we are trying to improve our standing in world and up our testing performance the world is trying to shape it's schools to be more like us. While we're moving to set standards of performance and carving away at fine arts and career technical, the world is adding fine arts and career technical.

While other countries turn out robotic, number crunchers, we turn out critical thinkers who hold the copyrights and earn the most in enterprising endeavors. We are balanced and creative, they are not.

Proves the grass is greener... yada, yada, yada.

Point? Testing sucks :D

Stef Kramer said...

Ahh! What great discourse we could have! Maybe it's the format of testing we should consider? I like your comment on critical thinking - isn't that truly the objective anyway? If we can raise our children to become great problem solvers, aren't we really moving forward? But let's think about this for a second. How do we know? Without the number-crunching, we may just be running in circles... Good stuff.