Can you name all of the kings and queens of Europe from 1400-1650?  Apparently knowing this information is important enough for a major test.

I know in my job as a teacher I have found it useful to know some of the leaders of Europe.  The theatre was not well received until Queen Elizabeth I enjoyed it enough to have plays performed in her palace.  Her successor, King James I, actually sponsored Shakespeare’s troupe of actors.  Knowing this has allowed me to sleep peacefully at night.  Knowing this has allowed me to earn more money.  Knowing this has allowed me to win friends and influence people.

Seriously, I question why our students need to memorize this information.  It seems illogical.  Most will store it in short-term memory, do well on the test, and forget it.  My wife did this throughout high school.  She earned “A”s in history, yet has no clue on when WWI or WWII was or who was involved.   And, the knowledge or lack of had not been that important in her career in banking or her running several businesses.

Our state and, subsequently our schools, spend a great amount of time and money on preparing for tests.  I have had many students perform poorly on a test; however, when given another way to demonstrate learning or knowledge, they are able to be successful.

In the work place, do we want someone who tests well?  How many jobs require yearly standardized tests?  Don’t most jobs pay more for experienced workers?  And experience means trying something and learning from it.

Perhaps we should be testing a little less and preparing for life-long learning.  The kind of learning we all do every day.

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Filed under 21st century skills, Business, Education, Measuring Student Success

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