Not all testing is a bad thing. Right? I mean, what exactly is the point of educating the masses if we have no way of determining if our system works? If what teachers are teaching is actually helping the students gain knowledge, the system works. Theoretically. The problem with testing, and sometimes with the system itself, is that HOW we test is the problem. We test students to death because we have put more emphasis on the assessment than what we are actually assessing. If the system was perfect, students would be able to learn and cultivate knowledge and ideas in a low pressure environment. The problem would then become about accountability: if students aren’t held accountable for their knowledge, then what is their incentive to actually put in the work? And if they don’t put in the work and then don’t learn anything, why are we spending an exorbitant amount of money for a system that no one [read: very few] benefits from?
This right here is the “thing.” This is the problem (at least from my perspective). How do we balance the fun with the boring? Some kids only want to take science and math courses, while others would rather spend all day in the art room or gym. Why shouldn’t they? I mean, this gets us into the idea that we should standardize and control what children learn. If we standardize it, the kids have an even playing field (theoretically) and that means we’re equal. But then kids are being forced to do/learn things that are of no interest to them.
Don’t get me wrong, to an extent I wholeheartedly agree that we should standardize certain criteria for learning until a certain age. Everyone should learn to read and write; all kids should have a basic scientific knowledge so they can actually function in the world and history is important too when it’s taught without bias. But do we have too much of this? Should we stop the requirement of these classes after middle school and allow students to run a little bit freer in high school to explore their interests? Why not? It’s how college works. We’d just be starting it a bit earlier. We’d still have a couple of class requirements to reach by graduation, but they can take them whenever they want and there should be more room for exploration.
And as for the actual testing part, why couldn’t we allow the teachers to create the tests? Sure, give teachers a few guidelines but for the most part, let teachers have the freedom to teach the class how they want to teach it. And by letting the teacher create the test, they know what the students should have learned. And their tests can be reviewed by the board of education to make sure it meets its requirements, but overall this would put much less pressure on students and teachers alike. But just like EVERYTHING else, complications and problems would continue to arise.