Mar. 31st, 2011

gmonkey42: cartoon Sephiroth (Default)
Have you seen the ad for peanut butter Snickers, where there's a focus group of sharks being interviewed about which person tastes better? I'll see if it's on YouTube...



A surfer was killed by a shark about 5 miles from my house two years ago. I probably shouldn't find this ad funny. But I do. It's something about the absurdity of talking sharks and a marketing company getting them to eat people and discuss how they taste. The talking sharks are cool.
gmonkey42: Professor Farnsworth from Futurama (farnsworth)
Here's an article (via Echidne of the Snakes about a teacher giving students the questions on assessment tests before the test:
http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2011-03-06-school-testing_N.htm

I was in an all-day meeting yesterday with four teachers about a program we're going to run at the lab this summer, where a group of K-3 teachers come for a week-long retreat to learn about marine science and work with these four leader teachers on how they can bring what they've learned back to their classrooms. I'm pretty excited about it. We're taking them to the Aquarium and out on a boat to count birds and whales the same way we do and to the tidepools to do an exercise about the scientific method.

ALL four teachers are frustrated by this teach-to-the-test mentality that's forced on them by the state. Especially in science, the Standards that have to be met (specific topics the curriculum has to cover because it's going to be on the test) are out of date; because of politics and bureaucracy it takes a long time to change them. Conventional K-12 science education already has problems: it fails to engage students or to dispel common misconceptions about science; standardized testing makes it much harder to fix that because the tests are geared towards a conventional curriculum.

Anyway, one teacher told me that in one country - I don't remember, I think it was in Southeast Asia - the teachers routinely give the kids the test questions ahead of time. They spend the year doing effective science education then about two weeks of drilling on the multiple choice test, so they can just get that over with then go back to real learning. It's cool. And it's exactly what this teacher did.

I realize that doing this totally defeats the purpose of evaluating schools with standardized testing and if we're going to do that, we might as well do away with the testing altogether. Yeah, that's the point. This teacher was doing civil disobedience and I approve.

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