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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

How the test is destroying America

There has been much discussion about the significance of the high stakes standardized test and how it is used in the current system of education.  It is time to take a closer look at the overall effect of the testing mentality and how it drives the very fiber of this country?

Let us compare simplistic, test taking conversations with those that allow for critical thinking.  The most obvious that comes to mind is politics.  As I prepare to cut off my cable until the next election I decided to look for examples of how commercial politics works.

Bubble test thinking:  There is snow in the winter so of course their is no climate change

Critical thinking:  Look deeply into the affects of climate change and you will understand that it affects weather in many different ways.  Global warming is an average of temperatures around the globe.  Does anyone understand what global is.  Not Washington DC warming, not Three Oaks Michigan warming, not warming outside your house, global means the whole world!  Duh

Bubble test thinking:  When the media hypes one dramatic case of an immigrant that commits a horrible crime, then we better be afraid of immigrants.

Critical thinking: Does that mean that one person is representative of the other 10,899,999 undocumented immigrants?

Bubble test thinking: A young black man gets shot and killed by police for committing a minor crime.  He shouldn't have committed a crime.

Critical thinking: Is the punishment for a minor crime death?  What was the approach to the young man in the first place?  Did it humanize or dehumanize?

Bubble test thinking:  When Sen Rubio says that Amazon has no stores it means he is young and understands that this is a problem.

Critical thinking:  Does the Senator try to convey the idea that people my age (72) don't understand this?  That is an insult to older people. Anyone knows about Amazon and others, but maybe we have actual solutions.

Bubble test thinking:  When Donald Trump says he will build a wall along the Mexican border, this will certainly stop immigration.

Critical thinking: The Mexican border is close to 2000 miles long and they know how to dig tunnels. Is this practical?  What is the root of the problem?  And watch out for those Canadians.  Do we need a wall there also?

Bubble test thinking: Presidential candidate Jeb Bush said that we have had the slowest recovery in history.

Critical thinking: This bids the question, recovery from what? Was it recovery from the deepest recession in history?  And there are many more questions that aren't addressed.

Bubble test thinking: Scott Walker said if he could stand up to the unions he could stand up to ISIS.

Critical thinking:  Specifically what skills and knowledge base makes those two issues similar.  None!

Bubble test thinking:  An agreement with Iran is based on trusting Iran

Critical thinking:  An agreement with Iran is because we don’t trust Iran. If we trusted them we wouldn’t need an agreement.  The deep thinking questions that should be asked are what are the specific issues in the agreement that  makes it better or worse than what now exists.  If we don't trust Iran, can we trust them with no agreement? Nothing to hold them accountable.

Bubble test thinking:  looking backward, if we punish the people more, they will bring on democracy

Critical thinking:  Looking forward, win the hearts and minds of the people, they will prevail when the Castro's are gone

Of course issues go much deeper than these, but this is the beginning of critical thinking.  My parents told me "Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see."  And that was before we had a television.  I believe the testing mentality has led the people  away from critical thinking to find a simple yes or no, or multiple choice answer in things that we are told through the media. 

In the words of that famous Irish philosopher George Carlin, “They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking.  That’s against their interest.  They want obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork and just dumb enough to passively accept it”

The reality is that tabloid news programs  (and that is all of them) would lose their viewers and no one would listen to politicians if we taught critical thinking.  What a novel thought! Our whole political system is built on the hope that “we the people” will not use critical thinking.  And corporations not only own the politicians but they also own the media.  Is it no wonder that those same politician insist on the simplistic thinking of the standardized test. 

This is not only unethical, it is immoral!