The Pedagogical Fallacy


It seems to me that not much learning goes on anymore in our classrooms because we are so busy testing. Does anyone else notice this? I would like to see assessment become more creative. Just because students do the ‘O’ levels in Sec 4, why do they have to be tested to within an inch of their lives every step of the way? I do not believe it has to be done this way. There must be more relevant and contiguous ways of checking if students understand what is being taught. I think it all centers around our narrow definition of the word ‘learning’. The real advancements in our world were made by people who loved learning, not people who did well in exams. There is no relationship at all between a love for learning and exam success. So what do we prove by our testing? We prove  that real learning and the love for it is our lowest priority. Top priority goes to setting academic targets and engaging in the ultimate pedagogical fallacy- that numbers equate with learning.

I’d love to hear some suggestions about how we could put the focus back on learning in the classroom. Any suggestions?

8 thoughts on “The Pedagogical Fallacy

  1. o rly!
    i think. tests. are good preparations.
    but i also do think that it’s all being crammed too much too quickly.
    Socrates has a nice beard.
    it’s rectangularish.
    i wish i had a beard.

    1. Depending on your genetic make-up (gender, ethnicity) you may or may not be able to grow a beard. I think beards can be nice on some guys but it takes a lot of maintenance work- regular trimming and cleaning. I wouldn’t take this cartoon as an accurate representation of the actual beard that Socrates had! So your suggestion is to space the tests out, but have the same number of them? I’d also like to ask what you think tests are good preparation for.

  2. Tests are one of the things that actually manages to kill one’s interest in pursuing knowledge, in actual studying. Forced to shove multitudes of information into one’s brain.. I think that grades do not even accurately show one’s understanding of the subject – many simply memorise the textbook for subjects such as geography…

    Happy Valentines!

    1. I agree with you (big surprise!). So how then do we check understanding? Do we need to check understanding at all? Also, since students do have to sit for exams (such as the ‘O’ levels) eventually, how do we prepare them for those without allowing testing to steal time from learning? These are questions that have my head in a spin!

  3. For once, I actually agree with MASAKA…
    The amount of tests we have in one week is amazing.
    When there are too many tests, we very naturally study less for each test.
    Or we study for one test and neglect another test.

    At least English compo means I don’t have to study ^^

    But tests, tests and more tests are draining everyone out.
    Of course though, tests are essential, not only for assessment of learning but for CAs and stuff.

    I can see your dilemma but am clearly unable to offer any suggestions after this long-windedness of a comment.

  4. Your comment is not long-winded. It is exactly as long as it needs to be to convey these very sensible thoughts. And it takes a lot of discussion and questioning (dare I say even- arguing?) before we can come near a solution. But accepting that there is a problem is the first step. You are absolutely right that a quick succession of tests yields diminishing marginal returns. Perhaps more of the assessment marks could come from projects and portfolios that are worked on and discussed in class? This is one of the things I keep coming up with.

  5. A very good discussion on this one. What about quizes, that are written unanounced, which are also not rated for report cards, but which will aid the compilation of portfolio? I think this may test the students’ understanding of a subject, and their every day preperedness.

    Just a question mrsv

    1. I think this is definitely a good suggestion. It would ensure that students get assessed in bite-sized portions that they can handle, allow the teacher to patch any gaps in understanding the students may have, and also help students to produce pieces that they can then display in a portfolio for assessment. There is still assessment, but this time it is much more meaningful, and the students get the scaffolding they need to set them up for success. I like it!

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