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Education + Tech

Education & Tech, was created to build hope that education based on social technologies, can transform the new century, and enable abundance not only spiritually but economically. Milton Ramirez, Ed.D. - @tonnet is the founder & editor. He is a teacher, tech blogger, writes on education, and hails this blog from Union, NJ. For further questions, tips or concerns please e-mail him to:miltonramirez [at] educationandtech [dot] com

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If you are a regular to Blog Education & Tech, you shall remember that I am a blogger and I'd written a post about education almost everyday since 2003. Education & Tech provides you with education news, expert tech advice, classroom management ideas, and social media tools for educators, administrators, parents and k-12 students.

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Testing as an Enemy of Learning

Kaitlin Shiner, Port Orchard's Star Student
Classes are about to begin for freshman and I want to share some thoughts, as always arbitrary, on topics that I have observed in my experience in education, which could be useful for those who have kids going to college.

Before delving into this matter, I want you to understand my perception about learning. I don't see learning as going about satisfying curiosity or memorizing names, dates and formulas, but as the ability to do something that previously could not be done. That is, knowledge is know-how.

In this context, learning is the capability to incorporate a chance. When I can perform something new, it opens a series of alternatives that I did not have before, for example, if a kid learns how to swim, now he can go to the beach, party in houses with a pool, go swimming, and so on. Learning is about change; and if one changes, the world and its possibilities also change.

From this perspective, I think there are barriers to learning, and the most important is the test. Although its function is to show evidence of an educational progress, the test by itself has gained significance, powerful, and disturbing social relevance.

For example, when a kid comes back home from school after taking a test, parents ask: what grade did you get?, if he says "100" it's all happiness and reward. The message we send is that his acceptance, in this context, is determined by the grade obtained. But tests are designed to measure learning out of the context for which that learning needs to be used.

What happens if we change the question? Instead of asking, what grade did you get? We ask, what did you learn today? Then we enjoy a moment of happiness from what was learned that day, then the kid will understand that his acceptance comes through what he learned rather than the grade marked on his paper.

As teacher Michael Soskil states, "people always say, 'We need tests because life is full of tests.' That's nonsense. Life isn't full of tests. It's full of assessments."

That small change in our perception of learning modifies the position from where the student is looking up at learning. If recognition comes a grade, he will do everything necessary to obtain it, but grades as an end goal are short-term, fragmented, and subject to comparison and competitiveness; on the contrary, if the focus is on knowledge, this leads to value learning as a continuous and long-term process.

A grade may be valid as long as priority is given to the student's image of himself as an outcome generator and not the grade by itself. The individual's results are achieved based on his potential, and not in comparison with the rest of his classmates.

Education demands urgent reflections, we must educate for a society of uncertainty where production and knowledge management begins to be out of formal logic, we must educate to face the complexity of a democratic society and its diversity, educating for innovation in contexts of high social complexity.

So I think we need to change the discussion of learning from the quantitative to the qualitative scenario.

As teachers we have a challenge and a big responsibility, today more than ever we must be teaching to think, to ask new questions and mainly to teach our kids that they are not simply a grade on a paper.

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