Forget standardized testing as a measure of potential

Do you think that merit should be based on how far a learner has come in overcoming their disadvantages or that a person deserves the rewards in life based on relative advantages?(Better resources, neighborhood…etc)

If you were someone who had worked hard at overcoming your relative disadvantages, would you want to be acknowledged for your effort or would you feel insulted that the benchmarks to acknowledge you are different?

To a large extent I think that schooling and college as it is now is a caste system. The system is tailored by and for the same kind of people who would excel in the current given measurement of achievement.

While many struggle to fit into those measurements / qualifications, those who are similar in abilities to the people who designed the benchmarks need significantly LESS effort to arrive at the same level of competency.

Validating MI means we don’t judge people only on one set of criterion handed down by one type of human intelligence which has been dominating academia from Day one – thus writing the code for the platform of scholastic merit in the 20th Century. While it is true that a percentage of those people with school-smarts also possess other types of intelligences, this is not a reflection of academia as a whole. This is evident when we take all the Professors in the world and we see only a handful who have very high aptitudes across  intelligences mentioned in the works of Gardner/ Coleman.

The concept of Multiple Intelligence of course has been distorted and misrepresented by people out to make a quick buck. Here in Penang (and I am sure elsewhere as well) I see “schools” and expensive “child centres” advertising Multiple Intelligence as if it were a method of accelerated learning. The part that infuriates me is that people who have no respect for the serious work and research in education psychology  are exploiting and destroying the credibility of such findings among the public through an outright misrepresentation of the facts and blatant exaggeration in their claims.

I fully agree with the idea of implementing evaluations where no one could possibly prepare for in advance. I never found consistent high correlations between studying for something and not studying for it. But I found that motivation and interest makes a big difference. If in one semester I had issues with a subject or teacher it would be  reflected in how well I do later in a test.

Not everyone is intelligent in the narrow way schooling in the 20th century defined. It is very  IMPORTANT to acknowledge that we as a society must not measure people’s potential based on how well they can ace exams and argue a point or are articulate.

The problem is NOT how some people have advantages over others causing others to have to compete and struggle. The problem is HOW we have arbitrarily created a world built upon an illusion of individual competencies which do NOT reflect the full dimensions of human potential

The reason why I transcribed the interview because it is an issue (meritocracy in tests, achievements) that has been very close to my heart for over two decades. The repercussions of how we structure the value of human potential around exams is far-reaching; schools, interviews, admissions, resumes, companies, referrals, etc. People build their lifetimes around an idea they have of themselves which was perpetuated by a flawed system of measurement in the first place.  Please, tell me that I am not the only one who believes this. Anyone else struggling with trying to articulate this for over 2 decades?


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Filed under Context : the thoughts behind the blog., learning about learning

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