Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Going for the low blow

More often than not, good ideas are shelved for those "ideas" that seem to convey the point better by using the easy button. Case in point: deciding which story to make the cover for a nationally published magazine. Do you use the revival of Mardi Gras in devastated, but rebuilding New Orleans or hit another cheap shot at the wahoos in office? While I am all for poking fun at the wahoos, I totally disagree with the New Yorker decision. Sure, there were a lot of problems in New Orleans leading up to and after Katrina but let's really focus on what is important. What is important is that people with money will continue their fun and games while those trying to rebuild their lives after Mother Nature decided she wanted to mix things up a bit still want to carry on tradition. It's a mad mad world and we're all here for the entertainment.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Teaching the Test

I am a student of standardized testing. PSAT, ACT, SAT, GRE, FCAT, AP, ASVAB and so on and so forth. I've taken a bunch of them. For some, I was taught the test and for some I was actually encouraged to learn information that happened to be on the test. But more often than not these days, students are taught the test.

After being so silent on my blog for so long, I am sure there questions on how this topic came about. In my daily reads of work, I came across an article in the Washington Post about teaching the test. The article is well written and brings up salient points. I think the best line of the article was saved until the end: "the need to prepare for a challenging exam outside of the teacher's control has often produced a remarkable new form of teamwork. Teacher and students work together to beat an exam that requires thought and analysis, not just memorization. If that is teaching to the test, let's have more of it". That is the most honest statement in this whole debate. But I have to add a wrinkle, why must we depend so heavily on standardized testing?

Standardized testing produces statistics and as we all know statistics can be skewed depending on the person taking the measurement. Though these mighty standardized tests are developed to be unbiased and nonsubjective, inevitably there are those pesky questions that scream: I am targeting you, unknowing test taker, and there is more than one correct answer. Muah hah hah hah hah. Ok, perhaps I exaggerate but how are measurements like the SAT and GRE really going to measure my aptitude for collegiate work?

For this blogger, I say it doesnt. I am a student and I love to learn. I dont like filling in bubbles on pesky tests. Dont make me cram in years and years of math classes only for me to slip up and forget basic formulas. Besides in what social science career am I going to need to know derivatives? A disgruntled worker will not come to me and complain because they cannot figure out the calculus derivative.

It's time for education to step up and teach viable and tangible skills that reach beyond taking a test under time constraints and filling in appropriate answer bubbles. Assess what students actually know rather than the information you deem necessary for their success. Increase graduation rates for both High school and college rather than making kids pass a test which is barely viable as an aptitude measurement in the first place.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


I know that unwanted body hair is a problem for many, but this new gizmo just looks way too dangerous to even the hair hater in me. Not that I have a back hair issue but as a realist, I know there are ladies out there with the wacky hormones that give them fits. Thanks PCOS!