"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, June 09, 2006

Globalization, of Cheating

No, the teacher here in the photo (from the Christian Science Monitor) is not screening for weapons, but for wires. The first two items on my Google retrieval this morning were these (here and here) news items, one above the other, on the continued flattening of the testing world by universal access to sophisticated cheating methods that now go hand in hand with sophistocated testing methods. Whether Hunan Province or Houston County, Texas, from Beaumont to Beijing, everyone is getting deeper and deeper into the cheating action. Higher and higher stakes requires higher and higher security, it seems--and testocrats cannot keep up with the ways that humans will react to a world where learning has been replaced by testing and where testing determines the social and economic hierarchy.

If who has the power is determined by who controls the knowledge, and if who controls the knowledge is determined by who has the money, and if who gets the money is determined by who access to the knowledge, and if access to the knowledge is granted by who gets the highest test scores, then we might expect that those without the money, without the power, or without the knowledge would do whatever is necessary to get the test scores without which they and their children will continue to have none of the above. And we might expect, too, that those with the money, with the power, and with the knowledge will do the same in order to protect their positions from those who are scrambling to replace them in the high stakes hierarchy.

Will there be a meltdown, a Chernobyl, for the education-by-testing model in the early 21st Century? Or will the poisoning and the rotting away be so gradual that the discovery of the condition will come too late to save this impaired version of the consumer civilization?

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