Re: DSM: (Almost) errorless measurement


John Axtell (newlife@theofficenet.com)
Fri, 10 Nov 2000 12:21:57 -0800


Dear Kristin,

It is sad to think that the students at a Sudbury school are oblivious to the
experiment in which they are participating, and even more so to think that the
parents are so oblivious to the need to determine if something is being
achieved at the school that is of value to the students. It would seem that the
Sudbury model is an experiment in the totally pointless experience of time.

If there is no way to measure a goal there probably is not a goal and success
is a certainty. If, by some stroke of the imagination - since there are no
measurement tools available, a student at a Sudbury school achieves something
it certainly can not be defined as success as no goal was ever set.

I believe tests are an imperative in life. I believe that self tests are a way
of validating to oneself the achievement of a goal. A life with a goal and
without a test would, to me, be, by definition, a pointless life. Individuals
who do not submit their existence to evaluations by others and learn from those
evaluations is living a self centered existence and probably a singularly
unimportant one.

John Axtell

Kristin Harkness wrote:

> Arnie,
> Exactly how would such a test be administered at a Sudbury school? It could
> not be mandatory. Even "offering" it would be inconsistent with the model,
> which says that the staff must lay low and wait to be asked for assistance
> in any student's endeavor. Sorry, I just don't get it. Students who want
> to test themselves, for whatever reason, are of course free to take any test
> they like, from a Cosmo quiz to the SAT. And the results of such tests are
> the individual's business.
>
> Going further, I don't see why anyone would want to test Sudbury kids,
> except to make a point in a larger educational debate. Such testing would
> not be for the 'benefit' of the kids themselves (if any benefit can accrue
> from being tested) but would be for the benefit of the testers.
>
> The Sudbury model allows people to find what interests them and pursue it,
> to the degree of their interest. This is an amazing skill, which I am still
> working on in my own life. Having been traditionally schooled, I find that
> one of the hangovers of my education is my own unwillingness to believe that
> I have truly learned something unless I have someone else's seal of approval
> on the knowledge which I have gained. Self-evaluation is useless if you do
> not believe that your own assesment is valid. Subjecting people to the
> assesment of others, and asking them to care about the results, is, in my
> opinion, a step in the wrong direction.
>
> Kristin Harkness
> SVS parent
>
> >At 14:01 8-11-00 -0800, Kathleen Stilwell wrote:
> >> From my study of the Sudbury model it seems that
> >>mandatory testing of any child could not be a part of
> >>the Sudbury model.
> >
> > Multiple Evaluation is in it's essence a method of self-assessment
> >and this in my opinion fits quite well in the Sudbury model.
> >
> >Arie
> >
> >>No matter how clever a test is designed to be, unless
> >>a child were to choose the test for self-evaluation it
> >>would have no value at all.
> >>Within the education system tests are used to label,
> >>categorize, and sometimes to guide and to mold a
> >>child's future. Unless a child asks for such
> >>labelling, categorizing, guiding and molding (and I've
> >>never met a child who would), then our education
> >>system is assuming a power it has no right to.
> >>Kathleen Stilwell, Las Vegas, NV
> >>
> >>
> >>--- Marko Koskinen <marko@vapaus.net> wrote:
> >> > I agree. One of my fellow students is doing her
> >> > graduate research about
> >> > her children. She is repeating the test by Piaget,
> >> > but doing the test
> >> > using situations and materials that are common to
> >> > her children so that
> >> > the children really understand what's going on and
> >> > they really have a
> >> > problem that they can relate to. When Piaget did his
> >> > tests they were
> >> > kind of random and didn't nescessarily have anything
> >> > to do with the
> >> > world view of the child, so the children really
> >> > couldn't understand the
> >> > problems and didn't pass the tests. But my fellow
> >> > student has come to a
> >> > conclusion that the tests really aren't even very
> >> > hard problems for her
> >> > kids when they are set in a common situation and
> >> > have meaning to the
> >> > children.
> >> >
> >> > So I could assume that the key issue here is
> >> > motivation. If the problem
> >> > is really important to you and you really want to
> >> > solve it, you use much
> >> > more attention and effort in solving it, thus the
> >> > probablility to pass a
> >> > test with "real" problems becomes much more probable
> >> > than solving
> >> > "hypothetical" problems. This means that the "school
> >> > test" actually have
> >> > no value at all, because they test only "school
> >> > survival", not real life
> >> > skills and "global knowledge".
> >> >
> >> > Also there is a lot of research in the field of
> >> > transfer, meaning how
> >> > the learner can use the things learned in a new
> >> > situation, stating that
> >> > learning is very much situated, and there is great
> >> > difficulty in
> >> > transfering the knowledge in totally different kinds
> >> > of environment.
> >> > There is also great difficulty in making instruction
> >> > into transferable
> >> > knowledge.
> >> >
> >> > This again means that if you learn something at
> >> > school and know it in
> >> > the test, it is very likely that you have no means
> >> > of using that
> >> > knowledge in real life situations, thus making the
> >> > test results totally
> >> > useless and meaningless.
> >> >
> >> > There is much discussion about these issues in
> >> > Sudbury literature and
> >> > there is also a lot of research supporting the
> >> > assumptions that are made
> >> > in the literature.
> >> >
> >> > Marko Koskinen
> >> > Finland
> >> >
> >> > > the main problem is with the tests themselves.
> >> > They don't measure real
> >> > > knowledge. Real command of knowledge only shows
> >> > itself in the presence of a
> >> > > true problem. A true problem is not one in which
> >> > the answer is known and must
> >> > > be picked from a pile (That is just an exercise),
> >> > but one in which the answer
> >> > > doesn't yet exist and must be discovered or
> >> > created. You may eliminate guessing
> >> > > from computer-graded standardized tests, but the
> >> > only way you can measure true
> >> > > knowledge is by how a person uses the knowns to
> >> > find the unknowns. And thus the
> >> > > unknowns must be truly unknown to the person, and
> >> > not just one of a pile of
> >> > > possibles.
> >>



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