Opinion

Emphasis on Structured Tests is so Y2K

A Plea Make Higher Education More Challenging and Worthwhile

By Anthony Ferrara

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been asking myself why structured tests have been ruling the educational world since I was nine years old. It was right after I got a perfect score on a standardized reading test in the fourth grade when I realized that I didn’t feel any smarter than I had before I took the test.

I guess that I could just write that notion off to a developing jaded soul that was beginning to form a subconscious that reeked of conspiracy theories and the like.

But the more I think about it, the more I seem to let myself off the hook. The world is a supremely practical place, no?

What we, as humans, perform on a daily basis in society is hands-on and always changing–especially in such an effervescent society such as the one we live in in today’s world. So what place is there really in a college classroom for multiple-choice questions and true and false? Are things really that black and white?

I used the term “college classroom” because I do believe that it would be very naïve to think that we could get away with taking away structured tests from our children. Often times, the writing ability of the youth doesn’t peak until after high school anyway.

Besides that point, though, I think that it is important to have our youth show a basic understanding of being able to study definition and memorize concepts and forms of subject material.

It’s also quite obvious that there can’t be anything given that is too outside the box–no matter what grade level–when it comes to different subjects, such as math and science. Some things are just about numbers and equations.

Thus enters another reason why the educational system that we already have in place, which counts on these types of standardized tests, can be very useful in our society.

I just can’t help the idea that when we arrive on college campuses, the focus should be taken off the memorization side, the black and white side, so to speak, and we should be putting forth a real effort to rid ourselves of “textbook tests” and instead integrate much more real world knowledge into our courses.

Students want to be engaged in what they are learning. Nobody wants to wait to get out into the real world to understand how what they are studying relates to what they are going to see in their actual field of work.

In fact, often times, students graduate thinking that they are going to love what they do, only to find that the real versions of what they had been studying are totally different than what they thought it was going to be.

Helen Lars, a guidance counselor at a local middle school, says “I was convinced that I wanted to be a journalist. I knew all the terms that a journalist should know –stuff straight out of the textbook.

I knew nothing about the field itself though–what it really took, and it ate me alive when I got into it for real after college. So I ended up going back [to school] and getting my masters in psychology.”

In an upper learning system that is supposed to be defined by allowing students the opportunity to branch out and really learn and understand what it is they want to do with their lives, there really seems to be a lot of time being wasted.

Granted, sometimes it takes more than a few tries and countless hours of searching to find what it is you really want to be in life. But the general population of college students seem to be more confused than they are sure about what they are doing.

About half of college graduates are not finding jobs in their respective fields of study after they get out of school. While there are the obvious societal problems that come into play, there are just as many young people out there that seem to be discouraged about their career path direction in the moral sense just as much as they are discouraged in the business sense.

We need more specific knowledge on college campuses. It is the professors’ and students’ job alike to allow more practicality and relatability into the classroom, therefore making the curriculum more challenging, but also more worthwhile.

 

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