Shaped by Materiality

21 08 2004

standardizedtests.jpgThis paper, which I found via Kairosnews, makes some similar arguments about testing that I do about technology. The educational setting, as everything else I guess, seems very susceptible to influence from materiality. Maybe it is the organized and structured nature of education that makes it so responsive? Maybe it is the organized nature of education that makes us notice material influence?

In any case materiality seems to play a large part in education. How would we organize education without a blackboard, lectern, overhead, powerpoint, posters etc? We can make the list endless, and all these artifacts intervene and shape our educational system. I guess that if we remove the artifacts – we will have no school.

Large-scale testing cannot assure that all students have learned the same material in the same way; still, teachers who want to keep their jobs react by “teaching to the test” as best they can. In this environment, all the scholarship that suggests teachers should employ multiple learning styles, intelligences and authentic assessment is discarded in favor of preparing for a pencil-n-paper exam that no one, not even the teacher, sees before it is given. From his Diagram, English accurately points out: “When standardized tests become the tool for assessment and “accountability” is applied like a monkey wrench to teachers and students, that tool becomes the determiner of every lesson plan, every discussion, every subject of study in the classroom–every turn of the pipe.”

Kairosnews – Patricia Roy’s blog

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