Henry H. Goddard, former head of the Psychology Department at Princeton and father of standardized testing, said in his book, Human Eficiency (1920) that government schooling was about “the perfect organization of the hive.” He said standardized testing was a way to make lower classes recognize their own inferiority. Like wearing a dunce cap, it would discourage them from breeding and having ambition.
For those of you who may not know, in Virginia homeschoolers are to turn in”proof of progress” by August 1st. If you are a new homeschooler, and this is your first year homeschooling. August 1st is more than a date…. its a deadline, looming in the back of your mind like a sledgehammer. However, it doesn’t have to be. When did our obsession with “testing” begin I wonder? There was a time when a test was just an assessment. A determination of weaknesses and strengths; not an indictment of inferiority and lack of ability. Should your child do poorly on a “test” are they then an inferior human being not worthy of your further investment time and materials? Ever notice that on most standardized tests, that there is a constant comparison of your child’s ability with other children of the same age. If all children are unique and individuals in talent and ability why would this matter so much? I believe that the notion that all children of the same age should all know the exact same information at the same time is ridiculous. We are all different and inherently we will learn at different rates. I recall being in 3rd grade and I could not learn my multiplication tables. I just couldn’t do it. I just didn’t understand the lack of calculation required. I didn’t like the memorization of it, and I just resisted learning it. I remember the teacher telling my mother that I was just not good at numbers, and it was really going to hinder my 4th grade progress and how I would never be good at math… because I had not learned my multiplication tables “on-time”. I didn’t really “learn” my multiplication tables until I was well into 4th grade, and I would have to say that it didn’t “hinder” me at all. I just learned them in my own time. I still see that 3rd grade teacher. She still lives in the town I grew up in, and when I graduated from engineering school, she couldn’t help but marvel that I must have finally learned my multiplication tables 🙂 I tell this story because I pray that you and your homeschooled student will see tests the way they were meant to be used… as assessments and nothing more. They will not determine your child’s love for learning or their ability to learn… no test can do that. Do not allow the labels of standardized tests to infiltrate your homeschool and pollute the love of education and learning you are striving to build for your children.