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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Tue Dec 3, 2013, 04:19 PM

37. Why does China keep stealing our intellectual property, etc?

 


I mean, according to the standardized tests, they are the smartest people in the world. They should be kicking our asses without having to steal from us.

Of course, it could mean these tests, which the United States has never, ever, not since testing first began came even close to the top on anything ... is meaningless?


And so, once again, I will share the Richard Feynmann Brazil story.... Invited to Brazil the head of the computer staff at Los Alamos was surprised to discover their high school students using physics books that Americans did not encounter until college. And scoring just as well on the standard tests. "Why," he asked himself, "are there so few Brazilian physicists of note?"

He wrote new tests which he gave to all the students. The American college kids did just as well on the new tests as they had the standard ones. Brazilian students, both high schoolers and in college, largely failed.

Interviewing teachers in Brazil, he learned that they were graded on the performance of their students in the tests. Instead of attempting to teach the underlying physics, they had to teach them how to solve the specific problems that would be tested, or they might lose their jobs. The Americans, having learned the physics, could work out the correct solution to new problems. Feynmann noted that the students in Brazil during their tests often complained that "this was not what we were taught".


We could theorize all day why judging teachers on the results of their students taking tests fails miserably. But it doesn't really matter why. It's been tried. It fails.

Disclaimer: "fails" assumes the measure of success is learning how to solve problems and not learning how to follow orders. You might note that the highest scores on these tests also come from authoritarian countries where following orders might be the actual goal. Given that standardized testing is a Republican dream, and Republicans are highly authoritarian, that may very well be their goal as well. They don't want innovative people coming out of public education. They want workers.

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