For many, April and early May represent ‘testing season” with AP exams, MCAS, and other standardized tests. These exams can produce feelings of intense anxiety and stress for many. Teachers remark about feeling the specter of evaluation as to “how well did they teach” and students can feel the pressure of achievement. While standardized tests do yield valuable information they are just one moment in time, one measure among many.
I would like to lend some perspective and how to place in context the purpose of testing, and how to move to a concept of “lifelong learners”.
If you spend any time with young children it is impossible to miss how they are “naturally curious” and that almost everything they do is giving them new information about the world and how it works. They giggle with glee and delight as they learn something new or discover something for the first time. It is that very exciting process of discovery and learning that I believe is critical to development throughout the lifespan. With technology today we instantly have answers at our fingertips. If we utilize and teach Socratic Dialog, questioning, problem solving, and creative thought and collaboration we are giving our students the capacities to blend information and to apply it to real life problems. Learning goes beyond lectures, books, homework and tests. Life’s experiences and creative exploration are essential to fanning the flames of curiosity and learning.
One test, one score, one moment in time does not give a full picture of what has been learned and what is possible in the future. We must give our youth the safety to perform to their best but also the belief in their futures and the importance of curiosity and life long learning.