A Springboard for You

For a better life and a better eternity

More Tests Should Be Like an Eye Exam

I took Ethan, my eight year old, for an eye exam today. This whole experience proved how uptight I am. Ethan was sitting behind that crazy contraption hearing, “Which looks better? One or Two?” and “Can you read the smallest line?” I was sitting on a chair in the corner upset because I could see the smallest line projected on the wall and he was getting the questions wrong.

Can you believe it? For a brief moment I was sitting there thinking, “Oh my goodness, my son is going to fail his eye exam.” I know, I have issues.

Very quickly it hit me. You can’t fail an eye exam. Eye exams aren’t about pass and fail. The eye exam doesn’t say, “You can’t read the bottom line? You are a loser and a failure.” Rather, it simply says, “Here is where you are and here is how to get you where you need to be.” 

Getting an accurate assessment of exactly where a person is with this exam is pretty important. In fact, we had to have this exam because the new glasses we just spent hundreds of dollars purchasing didn’t work right because the prescription was too powerful. It made his distance vision extremely clear, but he couldn’t read. With school starting up next week, we had to get that fixed.

Plus, since this exam is not about pass and fail, there is no need to cheat. In fact, cheating is detrimental to the process. Cheating will give us the wrong prescription again. 

It dawned on me. Maybe more tests, even in school, need to be more like an eye exam. Instead of testing in order to determine pass or fail, how about we start testing just to see where everyone is and what they need to work on? Instead of saying someone has failed because they can’t read the same line as someone else, how about we just learn where they need to work and then prescribe a plan of action for them. 

Maybe that approach won’t work at school. I don’t know. After all, it will really be hard for one teacher to tailor the teaching to the 25 different levels on which his/her students find themselves. It is just a lot easier to try to get them all on the same page, fail them if they can’t keep up and then shunt them off to the remedial class. 

I can’t fix schools. But I can work on me. My kids and I would have been spared many heartbreaking nights and altercations if I had been taking this approach every time I helped them with their homework. Instead of viewing them as failures because they didn’t get some principle yet, I should have recognized the homework and tests merely showed where they needed to work. It was actually a good thing to learn about the questions they missed. Then I get an accurate assessment of where they are and then I learn how to help.

It also helps me personally. When I mess up and get something wrong. It doesn’t mean I’m a failure or a loser. It just means I have to do some work on that particular spot. That means I don’t have to cheat to impress anybody. I just need to figure out where I am and work to grow from there.

Let’s work and learn together.

ELC

Advertisements

July 31, 2008 Posted by | Making Mistakes, Success | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments