Wisdom Begins in Wonder: Socrates

A Teacher’s Thoughts on COMPULSORY TESTING

The Socratic method has long been recognised as an important way to promote the getting of wisdom. It is interesting to pause a while amidst the current test fever in Australia to consider the validity of the classical model. There was never anything trite in the vast area of Socrates’ Curriculum.  Look at the summary of his questioning style: “The Socratic Questions.”

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Image Attribution: Creative Commons

The Socratic Questions

Source: http://changingminds.org/techniques/questioning/socratic_questions.htm 14/12/17

• Why are you saying that?

• What exactly does this mean?

• How does this relate to what we have been talking about?

• What is the nature of …?

• What do we already know about this?

• Can you give me an example?

• Are you saying … or … ?

• Can you rephrase that, please?

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In the light of Socratic awareness, so many of our current testing procedures in schools fall short because they are concerned with only a small part of the human story. I am not at all sure it is the right part. A new word has come to mind for these tests: TINTs – Tribal Indoctrination Tests (I expanded the acronym for decorum’s sake)

Such tests control the destinies of the young. Success will define tribal acceptability ranging from satisfactory to heroic. Failure will mean confinement to a lesser life.

This judgement of the tribe is focused excessively on the Cognitive Domain. And because of the cost of other methods, the tools of judgement are dominantly one-off tests.

Some of us who have been on the teaching journey for a considerable time cannot help feeling uneasy about the present day league-table fever. And the cognitive area is only a part of all learning. What about attitudes? What about the Psycho-motor area of mental health? How is the current generation faring in those areas? We have no mass-scale awareness of this. Maybe such concern is irrelevant and all we need from the masses is obedience to ad-talk and polispeak.

How strange it is to divide people the way we do into quartiles of visible success!

The category of failure, or even moderate success, is a harsh one these days to belong to. We teachers have learnt the hard way that the bottom fifty percent are half our future.

My Questions

Is TEST preparation replacing other (untested) teaching?

Are categories becoming more important than individuals?

Is stress controlled mathematically in the ranking, especially for the very young?

Is lack of skill with examination technique really a valid reason to berate children?

Is forecasting questions by study-guides a similar invalid variable?

Is postcode an accounted-for variable?

What precisely is the effect of school morale on learning?

Are all test conditions rigorously uniform for valid comparison of schools or groups?

Is there a clear distinction between diagnostic tests and attainments tests?

Does the vast cost of universal testing remove funds from urgent remedial teaching?

Are we really testing the right things?

Unknown       bizarro-stats

Attribution: Creative Commons: Dan Piraro.

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So there you are. Just felt I had to say these things. All those years of sharing learning with my students make you notice things. Things you don’t usually read about in a government’s test reports.

Bye now. 

I Try To Understand

Right now people all around me seem to be on drugs – word drugs. As I watch their narcotised, stupefied, insensible, befuddled, delirious, hallucinating behaviour I feel as though I have just fallen into Alice’s Wonderland. Why is this so?

I try to understand.

Rudyard Kipling once said that words are the most powerful drugs used by mankind. I fervently agree with him. I do know however that some words are as valuable as penicillin. They are not the ones I am thinking of.

The words currently in my mind can lead to the darkest of consequences. Many of the users of these words aim to suppress logic. They seek to give you a good feeling about unverified things and thus take away a great freedom – your ability to make decisions based on truth and reliable evidence.

What is the motive for this? It’s quite simple: to get your money. A second aim is to gain power over you. When your existence depends not on reason and proof but on the schemes and devices of fable pedlars, you are no longer free.

The selling artifice has become a Janus deal for the power seekers of the modern world. And the bend sanctifies the means.

In the table below then are some of my narcotic words. Their possible ramifications are also shown. All of this is a struggle that continues for me.

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Attribution: Creative Commons – http://www.theloquitur.com/leonards-turntable-trending-mixtapes/

WORD ADDICTION TABLE

WORD DRUGS

 ____________________

RAMIFICATIONS

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absolutely

Slanted perfection.

 Absolutely correct = 100%. Correct also = 100%. The big word merely looks better.

Absolute implies an extreme. So we are inspired absolutely to buy. 😯

get one free

You can first decide on the profit margin.

Then divide the needed selling price by three. The three you buy thus pay for the ‘free’ fourth.

Things are not free if you have to buy something else to get them. 😢

35% Off

It is possible to add 35% to the original price before the sale.

You can then with a flourish take off 35% in big letters.

Often the befuddled  buy the “bargain” and lift sales and profit. A big trick. Consider this! 😨

just 950 dollars 

“Just” can be a false diminutive.

It shrewdly implies you are getting a bargain. It can deceive you.

So go ahead and buy that match-box for just $19.50. Trust the fake mood? 😻

it’s new.

So what? Newness is vague value. Not necessarily good.

A new virus can make all the current medicines useless.

It’s time you knew ‘new’ can be a fake virtue. 😼

50% less fat

Meaningless batter.

Less than what? A pig’s foot? A ton of dripping?

“More” and “less” mean nothing unless all things compared are shown. 🤔

some people say…

Who the ‘some people’ are is never revealed in case you check up.

Are the SP mad? Are they criminals? Are they paid? No information given.

You are mad to see unchallenged truth in such shadowy statements. 😈

recent research shows

Once, recent research showed that man could never fly. Details are direly needed..

Researcher named? Size of sample given? Methods shown? We need to check it all!

Non-reliable non- valid research will eventually crumble like fake prophecies. 😵

ad hominem

Your position weak? Put a bomb in ‘em.

If your opponent is smart, attack his intelligence.

If your opponent is clever scientifically, attack science. 👹

being political

This “crime” has recently been the accusation used by one politician against another.

“In using that argument, the honourable member is simply being political,” said the Minister.

Pray what else should a politician be if not political? Are we not in fact suggesting here that  all politicians are bad people? ☠️

strong, firm leadership

Status quo rules. Police state in disguise?

Harsh penalties for dissidents. Laud our way of life; ignore its sins.

Enemies are said to be everywhere. Border protection is stressed. Weapons needed. Jobs and shares rise. Yea!    👿

taxpayer’s dollars

Unlimited funds to support banks, weapons and war.

Not so relevant re. education, hospitals and the aged. Save money for the truly important things and  privatise!

Open University Pty Ltd. 😎

big government

Corporate no no.

Viva Efficient Market hypothesis! Market triumphalism: core creed as we cash in on the Commons.

Auction off all that the people own. Make CEOs symbols of righteousness. Fund banks👺

expert advice

Henry Ford’s lawyer said, in 1903, that the car was only a fad.

Lord Kelvin of the Royal Society said in 1883 that X-rays were a hoax.

So the unsinkable Titanic sank. 🙃

the 99 cent gimmick

It seems a dollar cheaper. $4.99 is really $5.00 but the brain sees $4.00.

A deliberate trick to mislead. Yes deliberate. Count the examples.

‘Tis a subconscious swivel to twist reality in favour of the seller. 🙄

buy for $225 and save

You can reduce the cost but do you really save when you spend?

Etymology: Latin salvare ‘to make safe.’ Safe by spending? Maybe.

My daughter said long ago: “I was good today Daddy. Did you see all the things I didn’t do?” 😇

got highest awards

What were they? Were they valid? Is the brand story a convenient fantasy?

Self praise is an overt, lucrative form of fake flattery.

The going price for a knighthood from James I in the 1600s: £38. ♛

nothing but the best

The word best is often a fictitious superlative – a risky thing.

Accurate proof is rare. Glib tongues reap undeserved best rewards often.

Thus it may follow that the best possible outcome may be but the least worst option!  😼  

THANK YOU  FOR SPENDING YOUR TIME WITH  ME.    R.

🙏

Post Script

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Things are not as bad as they used to be, as this Public Domain archival image shows.