This is a rhetorical analysis of the essay written by Justin James. In his writing, he argues the true relevance of education as it is applied in the modern schooling system. He also seeks to further comprehend the impact of standardized tests on schoolchildren and whether or not they reduce the overall goal of learning which, according to him, is to instill the learners with curiosity. Moreover, he tries to obtain a true definition of education by outlining arguments, which makes the audience question the existing education system and whether it performs its main role of equipping students with the knowledge to face the outside world.
Boredom in Education
First, he begins by stating his niece's attitude towards education, which was at first boring after the introduction of standardized tests. This ascertains the fact that standardized tests have negatively influenced the purpose of education, which is to increase curiosity levels, contrary to standardized tests, which suppress curiosity and hinder imagination. Despite tests being vital in assessing the students' education progress and teaching the students how to practice and perform, they also have hazardous effects, which makes one question their function, since education's purpose of foster curiosity in schoolchildren. Nonetheless, tests require thorough practice in form of revision before performing them. This is usually a time-consuming and redundant activity, which prevents the students from partaking in activities that may encourage them to be curious. These tests eventually instill a mindset that education is solely meant to be ingested and reproduced through tests. This notion sends a negative message to the community that education is just but a repetitive process of practicing a single repetitive way of gaining knowledge.
The students' reaction to education is directly linked to how they are taught by their teachers. If their teachers teach them to perceive education as only a system of practicing and performing tests, they will react accordingly. This is proven by the presence of standardized tests which drift the students' minds and thinking away from curiosity and creativity, eventually making school monotonous and boring. These dreadful implications should be enough reason for the cause of action towards educational reforms by the government. Surprisingly, despite these consequences, a reform occurred in 2011, which was not aimed at improving curiosity and general thinking, but it was meant to increase emphasis on results based on standardized tests than creative thinking. This is because it has been proven that accountability can be achieved using tests, hence making it a realistic approach for better performance in school. This would lead to a test score rise, which would be a positive outcome (Kohn, A., 2000).
He argues whether the credit for the rise in scores would go to the schools or the education reform. This is a critical issue because the emphasis on standardized tests could have dire consequences. Furthermore, emphasizing tests makes the students view education from a different perspective, which is contrary to the desired and realistic approach of curiosity, and imaginative education.
This emphasis serves no other purpose but to inform students that education consists of obtaining content from a tutor or perfecting a single skill. It also makes them think that it only entails getting grades after tests and accumulating points. This makes the overall learning process boring as said above.
Cons of Standardized Testing
This education process is, however, unfit because they will not be well equipped to face life and its various aspects. Students will, however, reap more benefits if they employ creativity and curiosity because they will experience education differently as opposed to using tests, which deplete schoolchildren of the realistic education that encompasses and upholds curiosity, exploration, and discovery. This proves it worth more than the use of standardized tests.
The issue of tests has been met with constant debates in some parts of the country. For instance, the refusal of a teacher to issue tests due to the building competition other than cooperation and curiosity. Such decisions cause extreme distress since both tests and curiosity have equal pros and cons. None is more important than the other is. However, notable cons of testing are that it teaches students to shun their interests and only focus on the teachers' content. It also teaches them that the subjects being taught are the only ones that are vital in their education: the rest of it should not bother because they would not be tested. In addition, it also makes them believe that being thoughtful is not crucial as long as one obtains the correct answer. The cons of standardized testing are widely narrated in Ann Lahrson's "Side Effects of Standardized Testing." This affirms the harmful effects testing has on students despite being a vital assessment tool.
These effects suggest the possibility that tests decrease the levels of curiosity, creativity, and independence. It also affects the risk-taking ability among students. The question of whether the goal of education should be test results or wonder and creativity. The purpose of education is far more stretched than acquiring good rest scores.
Another aspect of the issue between tests and education is the level of intellectual motivation among students. When students leave school, they rarely face challenging obstacles, which stimulate their intellectual capacity. This is the exact opposite of what should happen because they will eventually get bored due to their boring exposure to education at school. Stimulated minds lead to curiosity and students enjoy while learning. However, putting too much emphasis on tests makes students reduce their levels of curiosity and follow the routine of reading, memorizing, and undergoing tests, which is monotonous and boring. Another example is whereby one student is asked to recall all exact dates of a significant event while the other is asked an open-ended question that makes him apply intellectual skills to the question. The former student will only memorize the dates while the latter will think intellectually and come up with a better solution; hence, he will have greater skills than the former student will. However, due to standardized tests, that may not be achieved because teachers fill students with content followed by the tests. This technique eventually gives the students the notion that education is equivalent to memorizing then sitting for a test (Popham, W. J., 1999).
The final issue is about the No Child Left Behind, which is affirmative that education mainly consists of the practice and perform method instead of enhancing curiosity and creativity. This will have a negative impact because of exploration channels' success while tests suppress success. Despite tests being crucial, they ought to be used moderately to allow room for exploration to flourish. Education will have more value to students if it provides more room for innovation and creativity.
Kohn, A. (2000). The case against standardized testing: Raising the scores, ruining the schools. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Popham, W. J. (1999). Why standardized tests don't measure educational quality. Educational leadership, 56, 8-16.
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