Originally uploaded by rob helpychalk.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Kaplan’s insight was to figure out that there was an idiom to multiple-choice tests. Choices tend to be offered in predictable ways. For instance, if a problem about ratios has the answers (a) 2/3, (b) 4/5, (c) 6/7, (d) 3/2, the right answer is probably A or D, with one of them meant to “catch” a test-taker who has reversed the terms. His study guides are full of wisdom about the prose styles of test-composers, such as: “If guessing, a good rule of thumb is: the longest choice is often the correct one.” Kaplan insisted he was a respecter of subject matter. But figuring out the “tricks” of testing would give you a leg up, whether you had mastered the subject matter or not.The advice works. The trick about choosing the longest answer, in particular, works well unless you have a test writer who is aware of the problem, and purposely puts in wordy incorrect answers. The problem comes up because the test writer knows that the correct answer is something very specific, and needs to explained precisely. The incorrect answers, on the other hand, are just things you make up and don't need to have much content. If you are in a hurry, it is easy to skimp on the effort needed to create plausible wrong answers.
Now that not just children but school systems are rewarded and punished for their performance on tests, public education has been colonised by the Kaplan philosophy. Entire school systems have hired testing companies such as Kaplan to undertake the Monty Python-esque task of teaching teachers to teach students test-taking skills.The situation is not beyond hope, though. The thing we need to do now is have tests that are worth teaching to. You need to write tests that can't be gamed by techniques completely unrelated to content. You need to write tests that actually measure the knowledge, skills, and values you are concerned with promoting. In the terminology of the industry, you need tests that are valid and reliable. The biggest obstacle to education right now is that too many people have an interest in making sure the test isn't worth teaching to. Administrators and parents of privilege want tests that can be gamed so they can game them. Teachers don't want to take the effort to write good tests or change the way they teach to match a good test. Caldwell laments
So everyone wound up back in the same place. SAT scores still tend to track parental income fairly faithfully. Except that educational advancement now goes not so much to those who know the periodic table or can translate an English passage into Latin, but to those who have learnt to outsmart an educational bureaucracyThis is true, but at this point an educational bureaucracy is inevitable. We just need to create one that is harder to outsmart
A couple of years ago, my neighbor locked herself out and figured she could save the locksmith charge if she could get to an unlocked door on her second floor porch. A Cambridge police officer happened by and helped us carry an extension ladder across the street from my garage. He even held the ladder steady while my nimble neighbor ascended to the porch. The police officer never asked two laughing Caucasian women to prove we were not burglars.
Were we in a disinterested view, or with somewhat less selflessness than ordinary, to consider the economies, parts, interests, conditions and terms of life which nature has distributed and assigned to the several species of creatures around us, we should not be apt to think ourselves so hardly dealt with. But whether our lot in this respect be just or equal is not the question with us at present. 'Tis enough that we know "there is certainly an assignment and distribution: that each economy or part is so distributed is in itself uniform, fixed and invariable, and that if anything in the creature be accidentally impaired; if anything in the inward form, the disposition, temper or affections be contrary or unsuitable to the economy or part, the creature is wretched and unnatural.
New forms arise, and when the old dissolve, the matter whence they were composed is not left useless, but wrought with equal management and art, even in corruption, Nature's seeming waste and vile abhorrence. The abject state appears merely as a way to some better. But could we nearly view it, and with indifference, remote from the antipathy of sense, we then perhaps should highest raise our imagination, convinced that even the way itself was equal to the end
Oh glorious nature! supremely fair and sovereignly good! All-loving, all-lovely all-divine! Whose looks are so becoming and of such infinite grace; whose study brings such wisdom and whose contemplation such delight; whose every single work affords an ampler scene and is a nobler spectacle than all which art ever presented!Disinterestedness enters the picture because seeing this divine order requires one to set aside earthy interests.
Since by the, or sovereign mind, I have been formed such as I am, intelligent and rational, permit me that with due freedom I may exert those faculties with which you have adorned me. Bear with my venturous and bold approach. And since nor vain curiosity, nor fond conceit, nor love of aught save thee alone inspires me with such thoughts as these, be thou my assistant and guide me in this pursuit, whilst I venture thus to tread the labyrinth of wide nature and endeavor to trace the in thy worlds.Arg, that didn't quite say what I want it to say. The passage right after might be better, but I am reading the book in google preview, and can't get the next pages. In any case, I think Shaftesbury's sub specie aeternitas approach to aesthetics, probably makes him disinterested and cognitive, rather than disinterested and noncognitive, as I had had him.
Joey Pics; Caroline Pics
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The North Country Academy for the Excruciatingly Fine Arts