Friday, August 5, 2011

You can have testing or teaching - but you can't have both

You're likely familiar with this picture, but if you are not, it is an optical illusion. Depending how you look at it, you can see either a young lady turning her head to the right, or a very old woman slouching her head.

But you can't see both at the same time.

This is analogous for two very different focuses in education. We can either focus on the quantifiable, obsess over counting testsandgrades and holding teachers, students and parents accountable for higher standardized test scores -- or we can focus on real learning, exemplary teaching, authentic assessment and progressive education.

But we can't do both.

Under high stakes environments, poor teaching and bad assessments will always trump real learning and authentic assessments.

You can't have both.

I'll say it again.

You. Can't. Have. Both.


  1. Well said! I would add to the your list authentic grading practices.

  2. And the definition of teaching does not equal testing

  3. The perceived need for testing intensifies the further you get away from the actual learners and teachers.

  4. Thank you Joe for taking the time to speak up! I applaud you for standing up to the traditional ways of schooling while remaining in the teaching profession. I found that I had to leave the classroom in order to speak out. Guess I just couldn't live two lives:) I have been following your blog and Tweets and always find your thoughts spot on and succinct. Keep up the great work!

  5. That was it? That was the shortest article ever. He just re-stated his premise, then probably thought to himself, "Well, my job's done!" and ended the article. And by the way, I can see the old woman and the young woman at the same time, if I pretend there's a young woman's face on the old woman's nose.


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