## Reblog: In Honor of the Standardized Testing Season

[Feature photo above by Alberto G. Photo right by Renato Ganoza. Both (CC-BY-SA-2.0) via flickr.]

Quotations and comments about the perils of standardized testing, now part of my book Let’s Play Math.

I hope you enjoy this “Throw-back Thursday” blast from the Let’s Play Math! blog archives:

The school experience makes a tremendous difference in a child’s learning. Which of the following students would you rather be?

I continued to do arithmetic with my father, passing proudly through fractions to decimals. I eventually arrived at the point where so many cows ate so much grass, and tanks filled with water in so many hours. I found it quite enthralling.

— Agatha Christie
An Autobiography

…or…

“Can you do Addition?” the White Queen asked. “What’s one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one?”

“I don’t know,” said Alice. “I lost count.”

“She can’t do Addition,” the Red Queen interrupted. “Can you do Subtraction? Take nine from eight.”

“Nine from eight I can’t, you know,” Alice replied very readily: “but—”

“She can’t do Subtraction,” said the White Queen. “Can you do Division? Divide a loaf by a knife — what’s the answer to that?”

## The “Are You a Homeschooler?” Quiz

It is spring cleaning week at our house, and I thought I’d do some virtual cleaning, too. So from a folder where I stuff the “To blog about sometime” websites comes this quiz. It claims to determine whether you deserved your high school diploma — Ha! There is no way I could remember anything from that long ago.

So tell me, what did the quiz really measure?

## In Honor of the Standardized Testing Season…

[Feature photo above by Alberto G. (CC-BY-SA-2.0) via flickr.]

The school experience makes a tremendous difference in a child’s learning. Which of the following students would you rather be?

I continued to do arithmetic with my father, passing proudly through fractions to decimals. I eventually arrived at the point where so many cows ate so much grass, and tanks filled with water in so many hours. I found it quite enthralling.

— Agatha Christie
An Autobiography

…or…

“Can you do Addition?” the White Queen asked. “What’s one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one?”

“I don’t know,” said Alice. “I lost count.”

“She can’t do Addition,” the Red Queen interrupted. “Can you do Subtraction? Take nine from eight.”

“Nine from eight I can’t, you know,” Alice replied very readily: “but—”

“She can’t do Subtraction,” said the White Queen. “Can you do Division? Divide a loaf by a knife — what’s the answer to that?”

“I suppose—” Alice was beginning, but the Red Queen answered for her. “Bread-and-butter, of course.”

“She can’t do sums a bit!” the Queens said together, with great emphasis.

— Lewis Carroll
Through the Looking Glass

…in other words…

If you could lead through testing, the U.S. would lead the world in all education categories. When are people going to understand you don’t fatten your lambs by weighing them?

Jonathan Kozol
at Westfield State College’s 157th Commencement

## Elementary Teacher Education

Unfortunately, this is all too believable:

Received an email from a parent.

Not one of our students, but rather the parent of a high school student who plans to attend this university. The parent is looking for advice on how to get the kid out of math. Seems that the kid has already taken the bare minimum number of units of high school math needed for graduation and has stopped taking math. The parent is wondering if the kid can take some sort of test (before forgetting any more math) to fulfill the university’s math requirement.

Guess what career the kid is planning on? School teacher.

From Rudbeckia Hirta at Learning Curves.

## It’s Elementary (School), My Dear Watson

[Rescued from my old blog.]

From Time magazine, June 18, 1956:

“[M]athematics has the dubious honor of being the least popular subject in the curriculum… Future teachers pass through the elementary schools learning to detest mathematics… They return to the elementary school to teach a new generation to detest it.”

Quoted by George Polya in How to Solve It. I finally got my very own copy of this excellent book, so I can quit pestering the librarian to let me order it from library loan again…

Blogger Rudbeckia Hirta teaches math to pre-service teachers, and it seems that not much has changed since 1956. Hirta says the test answers shown were representative of her class — for instance, 25% of her students missed the juice problem. Too bad these students never read Polya’s book, in which he discusses a four-step method for solving problems. Step four is to look back and ask yourself whether the answer makes sense. Good advice!

## So You Think You Know Calculus?

[Rescued from my old blog.]

Rudbeckia Hirta over at Learning Curves submits a great idea for a new TV blockbuster:

I’ve read that Charlotte Mason used oral exams like this with her students, though of course without the pressure and sarcastic comments. I’d love to hear how this works in “real life.”