Teaching to the Test
According to Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development, in the fourth stage- Formal Operational- we are to develop the ability to think abstractly and reasonably. But in today's world perhaps there is a greater difference between what we are capable of and what our environment allows us to do. As William Klemm states in his article in Psychology Today children aren't learning the skills to think well. Instead of teaching children good thinking skills and correcting their flawed thinking, children are only receiving lessons on what to think and how to find the correct answer. There is no discussion on how to think, just what to think. So then when children use poor thinking skills they are not corrected. They are just told the right answers and not informed of how their thinking was poor. Klemm contends that this is due to a fear of damaging the child's self-esteem. This phenomenon is due to the increase in standardized testing, wherein teachers are teaching to the test: looking for the one right answer and being "discouraged from thinking 'outside the box'."
The purpose of education, in the long run, is to allow individuals to be productive members of society. If children aren't learning how to think for themselves then this goal maybe even more difficult to reach. Klemm provides three suggestions on how to teach critical thinking despite these (in my opinion) ridiculous standardized testing requirements: have students defend their answers, model critical thinking, reward good thinking (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/memory-medic/201110/teaching-children-think).
Though Klemm doesn't offer any studies to support his observations, I think it's an important consideration when thinking about the standardized testing and the impact the results those tests have on the schools. Though we shouldn't assume that children are becoming standardized test taking robots either. Obviously this is something that should be studied more. It could, perhaps, be an insight to the possible reversal of the Flynn Effect that was presented in the textbook (page 342).
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