"What men are willing to put up with depends on what they are able to look forward to." (Arnold Hauser)
"You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." (Source unknown)
There's reading, and there's writing, and there is what? Testing! If "different strokes for different folks" is a valid principle of living and even of pedagogy -- Q: "Do you mean Karl Marx's famous ☭communist dictum?" A: "Yes, but that is a red(sic) herring. You are distracting me from what is most important here with your question."
No surprise ending here. Here's where I am headed here: If you want to thwart me learning something and, at best, make me fear you and loathe you, test me on it. If you make what you want me to learn meaningful to me, I'll learn it without you having to test me. I promise you, you'll get results. If you test me, you will make me suffer and you will embitter me, and you will not help me to learn anything I am not coerced to learn except that you are my oppressor ("Oh, but I would not have learned that, if you were not my oppressor.").
To me, being tested is a non-Freire-eque pedagogy of the oppressed. Who's oppressed? If you test me I am ipso facto the oppressed. I have been sent to Purgatory and if only I had the power, I would dispatch you to [fill in the blank]. No, I would not do that. I'd pull up my pants, tighten my belt and walk up and out of Purgatory, and, back on the highway of living, I'd check on the roadside to see if it was worth calling EMS for you, i.e., whether you had a pulse. But, please, my reader, by "you" I am not here referring to you (a living, suffering and perhaps even enjoying being) → unless the shoe fits! "You", here, is a rhetorical device.
The Starkist dilemma: The same tuna cannot simultaneously both taste good and also have good taste. There is no humane relationship between an alimenter and their stomach contents.
I can state this a different way: For me, at least, I cannot simultaneously/
"We'll teach you a lesson, ingrate child!" Hopefully I was indeed childreared in the Middle Ages (1950's middle-class USA), and history has fast-forwarded in the interim up to the present. Hopefully no more pedagogues and parents in the bad sense of those words (cf.: in loco parentis), which (less-than-whos) get internalized by the child (aka myself) into punative superego/toxic introjects. "I can't breathe" / "Give me a break!"
Here's the deal, squeal: When I was a young child I used to gag and resist when the doctor tried to use a tongue suppressor (oppressor?) on me. I invented a technology which achieved a mutual accommodation: If doctor would eschew deploying the tongue suppressor I would open my mouth so wide that the tongue suppressor would not be needed. A win-win situation which has, to the present day, worked for both of us.
If someone genuinely wants me to learn something, if they will make it have meaning for me and if they honestly promise not to test me on it, I will study it "until the cows come home" or at least until the chickens come home to roost. I'll study it six ways from Sunday. You may have to drag me away from it to get me to the dinner table or any place else, and, like a truffle pig, I'll root up [good, or not so good...] stuff for you. For what more could you ask? To hurt me? I mean this. It's a standing invitation (pace there are only so many hours in each of my few remaining days, so please do not waste any more of my precious time!). "The feeding gorilla comes in peace" (Bubba Free John)
The exception and the rule (ref.: Bertolt Brecht's play)
What should be tested, first of all, are schools and other societal institutions, because, primarily, it is social institutions which form persons, not the persons forming the institutions. If the persons do not measure up, that may well mean the institutions do not measure up. Of course surgeons should be certified before they hack persons' bodies open, although there have been cases of persons who knew nothing about surgery other than reading a few pages in a medical text before performing an operation, who saved lives. But that is the exception, not the rule, in both senses: (1) most persons probably could not successfully pull off that trick, and: (2) most human actions are not life and death operations. Students! Grade your testchers! Flunk those that fail the test (i.e.: take away their paycheck and fringe benefits)!
There are jerks who get doctorates with thesis topics about how to make students more honor code compliant amd/or how to detect violators. I sent a User Comment to The New York Times newspaper, +2021.05.09, about a big "cheating scandal" at Dartmouth college ("Online Cheating Charges Upend Dartmouth Medical School", NYT. +2021.05.09):
Schools chronically abuse students, or at least the one I attended did to me when I was in "perp" school (1960'ish). Students are the customers and teachers and administrators the service providers. In school, the customer is always wrong, unlike in the business world. There is a simple solution to the cheating problem: Only give students assignments on which they will have no cause or wish to cheat. If I was writing an essay on a subject in which I had a passionate interest and about which I had original ideas, I could not cheat because nobody would know what I was creating, not regurgitating. Students spend much time reinventing the wheel. How can they stand on the shoulders of giants when the teachers and administrators'are kneeing their necks into the ground? ETS standardized examinations may be the worst: Nationwide standardized USDA grading of animal carcasses. Teachers and administrators need to earn the respect of their students. It is possible if they are wise masters of their crafts, not just hacks collecting a paycheck for bossing young persons around. Honor code? Are we referring to a dishonor code system which requires students to be informers on each other, andsometimes, as in the case of the perp school I attended, with a "Student Council" of collaborators? What makes teaches and admins think the students are unworthy of peer respect, just because they have not seen as many sunrises and do not have power to fight back against being disrespected?
Concerning Educational Testing Service(501)(c)(3)
Educational Testing Service Princeton New Jersey (ETS) (501)(c)(3) standardized testing INDIVIDUATES students in a way that DEPERSONALIZES them into numerical points in an n-dimensional vector space the number of dimensions of which ("n") is the number of tests administered. You are unique: your n-dimensional vector of test scores generally maps to a different point in the test result space from most other people's, although the mapping is not one-to-one and multiple students can map to the same point in said test result space. Actually, the mapping is many-to-many, because each student is welcomed to pay to take the examinations multiple times, thus increasing the cash flow to this tax exempt institution. In every case: Jedem das seine (to each his, her, other's own).
Why doesn't Educational Testing Service proudly advertise everywhere that they are a (501)(c)(3)? That they are a charity? That our tax dollars are underwriting their nefarious anti-educational machinations? Why is their address "Princeton" New Jersey? So that people will hopefully confuse them with Princeton University? Why not have a Newark or Hoboken New Jersey address? And why are they called "Educational Testing Service"? Why not: "Academic Standardized Testing Corporation"? Academic Standardized Testing Corporation (ASTC) Newark New Jersey (501)(c)(3).
If you really, really, really need to test me
Dear teach, if you really, really, really need to test me to keep from killing yourself, here's how to do it: Ask the question, so I know what you're up to. Give me the goddamned answer book, or, if you don't have one, give me a comprehensive memory dump of everything in your little head that might possibly be related to the question you want to ask. Test me on my ability to genetically reconstruct the path from the question to the answer, or if I find that not possible, for me to provide you with a rational explanation for why I can not do it, including, if appropriate, a list of the resources which, if I had them, would enable me to provide that. Let us call this: "meta-analysis of the problem space". Do you understand? Or are you too dense? Two principles for "assignments"
- Assign it yesterday. Give me leisured time to do it right. Don't jerk me around at the last moment because of some excuse you have or lack. Haste makes waste, don't you agree?
- If you know the answer, cough it up. Don't make me waste my time reinventing your wheel, right?
Answers to test: Sargon II, Sennacherib, Esarhaddon, Ashurbanipal, Ashur-etil-ilani, Sinsharishkun, Sin-shumu-lishir, Ashur-uballit II.</p