Tuesday 11 September 2012

The National Exam and Test Cult

Probably best to think of national exams and tests as a kind of government sponsored cult, with its yearly rituals of examination, invigilation, marking, moderation and stage-managed press outrage. It has its priests, and sextons, its own court of enforcement and at the top of the hierarchy the high priests and seers who claim to be able to do the great interpretations - which, like any state religion's claim to be infallible - are merely responses to the politics of the powerful.

Though this cult pretends that it can discern difference between people and makes judgements on their worth, this has little relation to real people's real worth in the real world, where all kinds of other capabilities are needed which the cult can't and doesn't test eg ability to contribute to and learn from others in the process of performing a task; being flexible when confronted by the unexpected; knowing what to do and how to do it if required to research, investigate or enquire - particularly if the enquiry is going to involve more than one person; being able to motivate oneself (or a group of people) without an outside authority demanding that you do so...

All these ways of going on are ideal for operating in the real world but are a threat to the cult which justifies its existence on the basis of a different set of tasks. These are K1 - the knowledge of stuff; and K2 the knowledge how to do the cult's rituals. K2 is much more important than K1 because without K2 you can't prove K1. On the other hand you can have loads of K1 but if you haven't got K2, you're buggered.

Long live the Test Cult! Long live its priests!