Some things seemed so far fetched, so random, so made up. And yet it was supposed to be _the_ right answer. When I offered another one, even knowing the official one but disagreeing, I was graded as failing.
Hell, I'm pretty certain most writers just wrote something, and never though about it more. Not all of them are pondering, rewriting every line. And even the ones that do don't necessarily do it for the result the teacher expects.
And as a kid, you certainly can't say a classic author is not interesting. You can't say the text is boring, that you don't see talent in it, that you didn't learn anything from it. It has been validated by society, hence it's good. Now you have to say why you think it is, even if you don't. Actually you have to say what you know what the status quo is, which means repeating something you read elsewhere instead of forming a opinion from that and what you think. The opposite of what's school is supposed to teach.
We wonder why fake news and bullshit work ? It's because we teach kids to repeat popular opinions and make up things because they look good. We teach them that not only there is a price to pay for not doing that, but that we are ok with being the ones making them pay it.
People that felt like that usually went the science road. It's not a bad thing, but it's a positive feedback loop. It means fields in desperate needs of honesty and pragmatism are only welcoming bullshiters and conformists.
A lot have not learned this lesson and this is why many of us on this site still marvel at the bullshit companies raising millions and wondering HTF! Because those "smart founders" learned how to feed BS that their audience expected back to them.
I learned this lesson when I took humanities, it was so stupid, but I knew exactly what the teacher wanted to hear when we studied architectures & paintings. It was all subjective and her own opinion. I fed her back her crap and I passed the class.
If you haven't learned this yet, it's not too late. The world is full on chicken shit.
Mistaking the worst-case for the central tendency is a classic fallacy that is easy to fall into when expressing contempt.
Bullshit companies don't raise millions of dollars because people study poetry or art history. They seem to raise millions of dollars because there's a long tail of bad startups and a long tail of bad investment decisions, and the intersection of those can be cherry-picked to create the illusion that "the world is full of chicken shit".
The world does indeed contain some chicken shit, but chicken shit is not the central tendency of the world. Terrible startups get funding less frequently than good ones. Good technical ideas often raise millions of dollars and thrive, but sometimes they fail despite their merits. Sometimes "chicken shit" succeeds, sometimes good ideas fail, but it's foolish to mistake the exception for the rule.
But again, all this has very little to do with poetry.
I had an English class I thought was like this. I generally tried not to do that unless I had to, but given this English teacher had given me a D and C- on the first two essays (which is all we were graded on), I decided for the third essay I would get as much help as possible directly from her to see exactly what she wanted and try to provide exactly that, since she obviously didn't want my opinion. By the third visit during her office hours, she had very little feedback and thought it looked good. I got a C+. Visiting her afterwards I had her review the essay to give me pointers on what I could have done better. Her exact words, which I remember to this day, were "all I can say is it doesn't feel authentic."
That class broke me on the subject of English. It was the last required English class for my major, and I made sure not to take another elective in English (and I rather liked the subject before that). Sometimes you're damned if you do, damned if you don't.
...who was excellent. Who had fun getting students to come up their own ideas. Who didn't treat teaching as a day job to be gotten past with as little effort as was possible.
> A lot have not learned this lesson and this is why many of us on this site still marvel at the bullshit companies raising millions and wondering HTF! Because those "smart founders" learned how to feed BS that their audience expected back to them.
> I learned this lesson when I took humanities, it was so stupid, but I knew exactly what the teacher wanted to hear when we studied architectures & paintings. It was all subjective and her own opinion. I fed her back her crap and I passed the class.
> If you haven't learned this yet, it's not too late. The world is full on chicken shit.
> "smart students" learn to read their teachers and know how to feedback the expected answers even if they don't agree or believe in it.
Telling something even though you don't believe in it for personal gain is called cunningness.
I see many people misunderstand smartness with cunningness, people who are smart can be cunning as well but they chose not to.
"Oh yeah, that cushion represents a vagina; the broom a phallus! Cinderella has a conundrum - her Electra complex will remain unresolved because her birth mother is dead and her father will continue to replace any dead wives by marrying anew. How can she overcome her predicament?! In this version Perrault introduces the fairy godmother as a foil to the mother in Freud's complex. Now the godmother helps Cinderella obtain her own princely phallus and win a bloodless coup over her foul stepmother! Actually in the end all the ladies get a phallus!"
Joking aside, it took me another decade to have this sink in and apply it in life. I still deal with this foolishness daily. The originality of the and variety of the "chicken shit" determines whether or not I stick around at the job or in the situation the chicken shit is flowing.
I always say I loved engineering classes simply because 1 + 1 = 2, not much room for debate there.
Many engineers and technically-oriented people are naturally inclined to accept a fixed worldview: binary logic, set theory, F = ma and not F=ma^2, etc. If you reject the accepted worldview of physics, computer science, math, then you're a crank. Following a set list of rules is a safety blanket. There are no alternatives ("no room for debate") so that quiets the mind.
The world of the humanities doesn't have a fixed view and that can result in discomfort. Even everyday life doesn't have a fixed view and it's part of the language game ( from Wittgenstein) we play.
Problem is, unlike math, there's no particular objective reason to prefer some axioms over the others, and so there's substantial disagreement over which ones are "correct". And, of course, depending on which ones you choose, the conclusions derived from them can be radically different, opposite even.
But this is still formalizable - you can make statements such as "from an utilitarian perspective, X is the preferred course of action". You don't have to agree with that perspective for the conclusion to be testable and practically useful.
Because as soon as they have, they stop being interesting.
You give them too much credit, imo. That would be way to clever, too much 'conspiracy'-like.
But, I agree that if you go against the grain, confront their bs... you're toast.
There are some awesome educators out there who can inspire their students to think and explore the world.
There are far too many more who assemble a syllabus of their own viewpoint and expect their students to just absorb it.
Essentially if it takes those who are good at the bullshitting game to advance and compete for tenure bullshit becomes the defacto qualifier.
Making matters better yet worse for "optimizing" in both senses are those who actuly are sincerely interested in thd subject - I have had decent ones who would give good marks and respect those who differed philosophically but could give sincere and articulated explanations and justifications.
It’s the college enrolment thing all over again.
The concept that education on arts can bias certain mindsets definitely resonates with me as I struggled with English as a child and I recall struggling to grok what a "sentence" was: once a teacher explained it as being "about a line long" then proceeded to punish me when I took that too literally and put a full stop at the end of every line.
"Hell, I'm pretty certain most writers just wrote something, and never though about it more."
On this particular point, to provide an alternative perspective on the subject, I have had an academic music professor argue to me that even the creator of any art may not be a good objective critic of their art within the context of some wider academic framework. This could be due to at least two reasons:
1. the artist was too emotionally involved in the art so is unable to unbiasedly critique it
2. the framework/wider context of analyzing a piece of art may take shape later after the initial inception of the art.
In any case, I'm probably talking a bit past you - any person who adopts an assertive position "the author did X because they intended to achieve effect Y" is at best lazy and worst wrong if they're unable to back up that assertion with some kind of evidence (e.g. autoanalysis by author or letters/interviews)
I had a stats professor in college who said (in a course on nonparametric statistics) something like "there are two types of statisticians out there, those who are horrible at arithmetic, and those who are great at it." His point was just that it's possible to get very abstract math concepts really well and also be kinda sloppy with other things.
I guess my point is that early exposures to anything can really bias people's perceptions a lot, even when it's not representative or necessary. Vocational stuff I think can be like that too: early exposures to different types of careers can be really biasing even when your understanding of it as a broader field is really misleading.
I definitely had some English teachers who were simply bad. Your 'sentence' experience resonates with my teacher who insisted that the five sentence "hamburger" paragraph format was inviolate and marked any paragraph shorter than five sentences as 'incorrect'. (Good luck obeying dialogue rule that way...) But I had a lot of others who actually knew about their topic and cared about teaching it well. A lot of them were open to multiple interpretations of stories; one even managed to competently outline "death of the author" and explain why "the author intended..." wasn't always the right way to look at things.
That was where the problems of the classroom format became painfully obvious. The way we read books wasn't centered on keeping kids interested or even promoting deep analysis. Rather, it was shaped by the need to assign reasonable amounts of homework, and to practice writing brief essays without referencing the text - because that's what standardized tests require. The length and pace of book discussions was based on how long it took to finish the book at 30 pages/night, which also encouraged discussions that were completely invalidated by the next days reading. And the ideal "result" of a book was 40 minutes of writing on a single thesis which had to be simple enough to produce without opening the book.
The result was that we simply didn't learn a lot of useful things which didn't fit the format, like contextual analysis or studying an author's canon. Meanwhile, lots of the things we did learn - close reading, deconstruction, death of the author - came through in ludicrously contrived examples that made them seem idiotic. Failing to teach a subject is a shame, but actively leading students to hate the subject is shameful.
"Education, particularly in literature, is seriously worsened by structural limitations teachers can't control."
Standardized tests are a big part of that, and I do think "analyze this book in detail without access to the text" is a singularly useless task that actively rewards shallow thought. Multiple choice analysis questions are another problem, especially "what did the author intend by this passage" questions which set people up to totally misunderstand 'death of the author' later. Less directly, test questions like "compare and contrast the handling of death in two novels" put teachers under pressure to cover laundry lists of themes so that their classes will have something relevant to write about - which gets in the way of any other kind of focused study, like reading theory or following one author across multiple works.
But standardized tests aren't the only structural pressures which crop up regularly. I mentioned consistent homework and daily class periods - discussing "yesterday's reading" for a book like 1984 is a ridiculous approach, but there's relatively little room for finishing and then discussing books, or choosing a few key check-ins mid-book. (And these problems all tie together: with more time for theory, you might do that in class while reading at night. With better cross-class organization, you might offer lots of reading some nights while shorting other classes, then no reading on other nights.) Short grading periods and always-visible Blackboard grades drive time-wasting assignments; I've heard plenty of teachers say that they gave out tasks just to have baseline grades for the first interim report. The lack of block scheduling means every class is effectively <35 minutes, making it hard to show films or discuss serious themes without numerous interruptions.
I could go on at enormous length, but that's the gist. For all that schools demand cutting-edge educational practices (which are often bunk), testing and organizational demands leave teachers with worse learning arrangements than your average book club.
Back in the dim, distant past, many people thought it was about censorship. Bradbury, in an interview at the time, agreed.
I don't know that the two readings are incompatible, either. They fit together quite nicely in a reading about voluntary censorship, where popular disinterest makes it easy to peel away information and silence voices on the margins. But it's interesting to see how the focus between the parts shifted, even in Bradbury's mind.
I absolutely agree with this. This was a constant source of frustration for me in literature classes. I enjoyed exploring alternative solutions and answers. Most science teachers encouraged that, even though there mostly was a "right" answer and I was missing some (mostly unknown to me) details in alternative theories. Exploring alternatives helps (me) to understand the problem and solution better.
But in the most subjective classes possible - literature analysis - where nobody really knows what the author meant, alternative opinions were considered wrong. And my only task was to repeat the teachers or text books opinion. Frustrating is an understatement.
This part of the article captures the issue perfectly:
> I just put that stanza break in there because when I read it aloud (I’m a performance poet), I pause there. Note: that is not an option among the answers because no one ever asked me why I did it.
Out of the answer choices, only one (C) fits:
> A. compare the speaker's schedule with the train's schedule [incorrect because the first stanza isn't about the speaker's schedule]
> B. ask questions to keep the reader guessing about what will happen [incorrect; the only questions in the poem are rhetorical]
> C. contrast the speaker's feelings about weekends and Mondays [correct, because the first stanza mentions feelings about the weekend, while the second is about dread for Monday]
> D. incorporate reminders for the reader about where the action takes place [incorrect, because both stanzas take place in the reader's bed]
Is that a legitimate question? Kind of. In fact, it's very close to the type of thing that most professionals are required to do in the business world, etc., interpreting written words based on weird rules and psychology for one's survival (in said workplace). If you see it as a test of the skill of adapting one's thinking, rather than a test of poem interpretation a la Common Core, it has some value.
Is it ethical, though, to present it to children in that skin-deep way, and get them frustrated because they may intuit that there's a deeper level to what they should be learning, but they never have the mentorship or context (or privilege!) to understand it as anything other than an arbitrary, authoritarian "gotcha?" That if you try your best to follow the instructions without the bigger picture, you are doomed to be imperfect? I think it's not ethical at all. And it's a damn shame.
I am not brilliant, but am a fantastic test taker.
When it’s Sunday
and it’s midnight,
put back in its chest,
the toys of recreation,
and needed rest.
When I lie in wait
to grab me by the ear,
throw me at the shower,
off to school
and when I hear
the train at midnight
from so many miles away . . .
when it’s Sunday . . .
and it’s midnight . . .
in passing brays and boasts
arrival times to keep.
And I meander to its rhythm,
flopping like a fish.
Why can’t I get to sleep?
Why can’t I get to sleep?
Asking author's-intent questions without checking the author's intent isn't great, but asking students to explain a stanza break that doesn't exist is a particularly exciting sort of unproductive.
The first thing most people think of when they think 'poetry' is patterns with a fixed meter and maybe rhyming patterns, but there's a great deal of poetry that doesn't really have either. Instead, those poems use line endings to give breaks and maybe an overarching pattern. Some of it is quite good at making use of those breaks, and they can form a rhythm of a sort, but it's not necessarily an obvious one.
This poem, though, is... weird. It almost seems like there was an attempt to use a rhythm, and then it got busted up by line breaks to try to do something else, and in the process both context and rhythm got broken to the point of making it hard to read.
This being the first time I've come across it, I can't say I'm a fan of the poem. It's alright, but there are strange choices made by the author that I can't get past.
I agree that this is true, but it's worth pointing out that the question does actually say "allows the poet to". Recognizing that the poet's intent is irrelevant means deciding to ignore the explicit text of the question in favor of obeying the internal logic of standardized testing.
Taking the question at face value, Holbrook's objection is just fine: the stanza break allows the poet to take a breath. She put a sentence break between the Sunday and Monday sections to contrast them, then added the stanza break for a different reason altogether. (Yes, the breathing point is between those two sections because they contrast, but if we're being that picky we might also argue that it's not 'allowing' contrast but accommodating an existing contrast.)
I get that most students will answer this correctly, and certainly the other three answers are more wrong than C. But I don't like the idea that "best answer presented" is an adequate standard for simple factual claims. Moreover, I watched English teachers and professors go through agonies trying to teach death of the author, largely because questions like this actively undermine any attempt to think clearly about the difference between text and creator.
It's that there are multiple valid alternative interpretations for the same piece of literature. One is C), while the other one is "allows the poet to add a break, when reading it out loud." Being multiple choice, it's not the best question for this point, but the authors comment is a perfect example that seemingly objective interpretations might have nothing to do with the authors real intentions. Thus I argue that they are not that objective and there a multiple valid interpretations.
The worst cases seem to be where the question-setter has a fixed idea of what the right answer is and does not understand the subject deeply enough to see that there are other issues. This has happened to me in technical interviews, as well as a test-prep class that I almost got thrown out of.
35 The imagery in lines 16 through 19 helps the reader understand –
A the shift in the speaker’s attitude
B the speaker’s unpleasantness
C why the speaker has no friends
D what the speaker thinks of others
> A the shift in the speaker’s attitude
It's not A, because the cited lines contain no reference to any shift. The rest of the poem implies a shift or mood swing, but the cited portion helps you understand the current mood, not the shift.
> B the speaker’s unpleasantness
> C why the speaker has no friends
C assumes facts not in evidence. The poem doesn't say the author has no friends. It says she is in a mood where she could not attract friends. The imagery is directed specifically to the author's unpleasantness. One can speculate that, as a result, she has no friends, but that's not necessarily true. B is the more direct and thus better answer.
> D what the speaker thinks of others
The text is talking about the author, not others. You can speculate what the author thinks about others, but that's not what the question is asking.
I think her answers to several of the other questions are a bit obtuse - she's not actually unable to answer the questions, just showing how several answers could potentially relate while ignoring an obvious best. But her response here chooses C as 'obvious', then discusses how B could also apply. Even with a solid rationale for rejecting C, it's not a fantastic sign if a professional author addressing her own work genuinely gets the answer wrong.
But why does she pause there? A lack of breath? (She's going to be unconscious by the end of the second stanza.) To emphasize some kind of separation in some aspect of the poem?
I have this strange feeling the author is being intentionally obtuse.
For these sorts of topics, there are no right answers, although there are certainly some wrong ones. Your job, as a student, is to learn to, and to demonstrate that you can, think about the material, to have some sort of insight beyond the surface features.
You can certainly say some author is not interesting to you; you can say you didn't learn anything from it. You cannot say the text is boring or talent-free; that's the same as saying there is one right answer. And keep in mind: the reason a classic is considered a classic (Hiawatha not withstanding) is because other people found it interesting, talented, and learned from it.
One difficulty is that a good answer and a wrong answer are not immediately distinguishable, especially from the student's side. The teacher's job is to, among other things, explain why an answer is wrong without pushing some "one true answer". That's hard.
Unfortunately, many teachers are crappy. The current US primary and secondary school system tries really hard, with its standardized testing, to enforce crappiness, in the name of fighting other kinds of crappiness, so...yeah.
P.S. There isn't a grand conspiracy out to get you. Well, the probability is really low, anyway.
Some elements of analysis are verifiable, like when someone provides meaningful context around lines in Shakespeare, but once you get past very elementary discussions of literature the notion of "right answer" is kind of over.
My primary degree is literature; above dumb-freshman courses, the emphasis is on analytical thinking about the text, and on the rigor of that thinking, not on the supposed correctness of the analysis.
But, of course, this interferes with your thesis, so...
I don't see that your comment interferes with his thesis at all.
Lots of people my age in the biz don't have CS or MIS degrees. Most of the degrees back then were lagging real-world tech in a huge way, so we mostly taught ourselves. Our degrees are in things like physics, or math, or engineering, or political science, or (like me) literature & creative writing.
Specialization is for insects. ;)
That is because that statement is both not useful in the context (you're there to pick it apart) and reflects pretty badly on your understanding, clearly the text has some depth, even if not consciously included, to be analysed. If your conclusion was "rubbish" when you're meant to be making a point about subtext, you're failing, its pretty simple.
People include subtlety in their art even if they don't intend it. Things can not be fantastic but still reflect society, the author, your own experience, which is the point of literature analysis.
Text analysis is a lot like wine tasting: there is something to it, but it's way over the top. And if you put a brand new text and put 10 experts on it, they will come up with different interpretations. They will even claim terrible wine is good because of the bottle.
There is also a huge mentality implication. See for example your reaction: you assume my understanding is bad while knowing nothing about me.
And I just criticized people drawing definitive conclusions about other people so distant we know little about them. The example in the article supports this and beyond, and while a few data point is not evidence, it calls for a debate.
I think it's perfectly ok for kids to be wrong about their text interpretation if they produce a personal constructed analysis. First because it's pretty hard to prove there is only one right analysis and you got it. Second because the process is as important as the result. Good teachers target that, but few do.
The whole point is that of a subjective analysis, with infinite interpretations which aren't objective views of the text, but a product of the interrelationship between: the text, the context of the text's writing (inc authorial intent), the analyser, their context, and the context of the academia around the text pre existing. These aren't objective measures, but the aim is to have something to say, to have enough insight into the world to link ideas up and make something up that sounds convincing.
Saying the book isn't as good as other people said it was isn't that, and it isn't really very useful, even as a personal opinion, and is completely missing the point of the exercise.
Teacher went all out saying its about dark thoughts and existential crisis etc.
I actually met the author and asked him about the poem. She said, she just likes crows because there was a lot of them in the city she grew up in.
Thats it. I even wrote THAT interpretation as my answer to some test later on and i got a failing grade.
Told the teacher about my visit and discussion with the author. But he said he does not care because thats not whats written in the answers spreadsheet.
After that i realized majority of such teachers are retards and should be fired. Unfortunately our education system is so underpaid, getting anyone half decent wont happen.
Funnily enough, Death of the Author is well established critical theory in English literary interpretation (criticism). On Academic merit, if you have appropriate evidence in the literature to support your theory then your theory is valid and discussable on its interpretive merits. This is taught at the college level.
I would like to have English classes teach critical reading in the classical sense of english literary theory much earlier. But I'm really not sure how to begin to teach someone how to interpret before I show logical steps towards singular interpretations first.
I completely agree with this, but just want to note that it's possible to do this properly. Usually this happens in college. The societal approval must still be taught, but it ends up being a discussion unto itself. "This writing style was popular at the time, and people had the following social expectations for men and women of the upper class, and these were informed by the following social movements, etc, etc." A real discussion of why this work gained so much esteem allows for constructive criticism, or might even help a student to understand a work that would have otherwise been impenetrable.
If anyone's read "The Rape of the Lock" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rape_of_the_Lock), this is a great example of a work that would have been impossible for me to understand without a great literature teacher an some historical and contextual education. The social norms, expectations, and how someone would politely and indirectly talk around them would have been completely impossible for me to grasp if I were left to my own devices.
There's no reason societal approval must be taught uncritically. Maybe I used a poor term. I just meant that some historical works are seen as great literature. And the values that society currently held at the time, and subsequently must be part of the staying power of a given work. Obviously other things come into play as well such as writing style and quality.
I also was not being a smart ass. Many authors have additional writings that add color to the writing being studied.
It really bothers me that you even have to clarify something like this. Students should be skeptical of what they're being told. That doesn't make a student a smart ass - it makes them a critical thinker. Teachers who take offense when their "authority" is innocently questioned are doing a massive disservice to their students.
1) Those that want a response that they can consider. These are critical thinkers.
2) Those that don't care what the response is. These are smart asses.
In schools the latter are far more common, and far more likely to speak out
AI classes, by the way.
I'm also sure that a student who is one day asking a genuine question, is the next day beign a smart ass. I certainly used to do that.
Kids are terrible. When there's 30 of them in the room, half of them who don't want to be there, it's even worse.
It's not a productive reaction, and you grow out of it, but it's not a surprising one.
But they span on over 2500 years, with huge objective, quality and target audience differences.
I can appreciate Seneca and at the same time don't give much credit to Kant. You could reflect deep into To kill a Mockingbird and see Flaubert as dry and over hyped. And you should be able to say that in class without being threaten with a bad grade. Even if you were hypothetically wrong, if such an absolute is possible in this field.
This also happened to Flannery O’Connor. She once wrote the following to an English Professor:
“The interpretation of your ninety students and three teachers is fantastic and about as far from my intentions as it could get to be.”
Despite her claims to the contrary, I do find her tone "obnoxious". Their fault was not in their interpretation, but in asking the author to confirm it. A great story will "go on expanding for the reader the more he thinks about it", but I find it self-important for a writer to declare that their piece achieves that lofty goal.
I agree with her assertion that their interpretation is dull and simple, but if that's where they've settled, it's as valid as any other. I feel like she's said, "No, I've written a great work of art, and if you've reached a boring conclusion from it, that's your fault." I find it dismissive of her to say in two sentences that there's "no lessening of reality" but simultaneously "not meant to be realistic": that's a cheap way to excuse vagueness.
It's not that difficult for a work to be open to multiple interpretations the longer you look. You can achieve that with ink blots. So if they find merit in the work, they should keep reading to appreciate that merit more fully rather than ask an author to affirm their decryption. But I feel like she hasn't engaged well with the work they have put in: she's dismissed it entirely and missed an avenue they have a right to explore.
I failed that class. I never bothered re-taking it.
If a teacher find intensity and depth in a text that has little substance or nuances in the most obvious lines, I'd argue that it's actually the most important point to make if you want to say something that matters.
Of course, to win the meta game is to know that is not actually the most important point to make if you, as a student and human being, want to open more opportunities in your life.
And then on top of that it turns out the CPUs are designed to be inherently insecure so all those amazing mathematical proofs in perfect penmanship were a waste of time.
The way in which blockchains are implemented, sure, that's math, applied as cryptography, applied to achieve distributed consensus, which is very much computer science. But you specifically mention crypto scams, which is much more applying the general concept of distributed consensus to different areas, and I think that's where it jumps out of the realm of computer science.
Maybe a better label for the "best practices" for the application of computer science is "software development". I think that, as an area of instruction, is more inherently subjective.
I don't think I've ever heard of a class in crypto scams or Agile.
Give it a thousand years.
I still distinctly remember a surreal class discussion in high school (more than a decade ago) where classmate after classmate of mine in an AP English class responded to a verbal question about a phrase expressing regret over not doing something as though it'd actually been done and the regret was about having done it. It was like "WTF, most of my classmates have problems with basic reading comprehension?" The question was basic, and the teacher basically went row by row to try and get an answer, and it was clear that a huge proportion of the class so misunderstood the text that they didn't even know how to respond to the question.
Luckily, you are overestimating the effect of education.
Kids don't pay enough attention to be so indoctrinated.
One thing I noticed about socialization processes is they are about teaching things they are too afraid to teach directly like when and how to lie and when hypocrisy is acceptable.
If you practice some vice while expecting them to be virtuous you teach that the "good behavior" (say you serve them broccoli and water while you have fried chicken and soda) is childish and vice is to be preferred when not forced.
I actually was always better at English than I was at math (much better). I even won an NCTE writing award in high school, and found math difficult. But I studied physics in college because I'm someone who can't stand BS and don't like the way English is taught at the college level. The idea of pure, simple truths deeply appeals to me.
But I feel even writing this is heresy. Maybe I'm just being a smug STEM type and I don't appreciate the world of literature. Maybe I just don't get it. But I went into college wanting to understand things, and making a game out of extracting hidden meanings from books just didn't offer anything I was looking for.
My eyes just rolled looking at that number. That means they only pick 98 and 99 percentiles. For a first grader to score that high, she needs to answer the exam perfectly. If you have some statistics training, you'll see this score is like shooting yourself in the foot. You're more likely selecting prepared test takers than gifted students.
I congratulated my daughter on her score. We went out for dinner and got tasty pastries for dessert. Life is too short to waste our time on these dumb tests.
> My eyes just rolled looking at that number. That means they only pick 98 and 99 percentiles.
Either one of these is wrong, or they somehow managed to craft a test where the score percentage matches the score percentile, which while possible to engineer is somewhat improbable and also contradicts the next sentence:
> For a first grader to score that high, she needs to answer the exam perfectly.
Irrespective of one’s current grade level, it doesn't require answering an exam perfectly to get a 98%. It might to get a 98 percentile score (depending on what other people taking the score get).
> If you have some statistics training, you'll see this score is like shooting yourself in the foot.
If you have some statistics training you'll recognize the difference between percentages and percentiles and which of the former corresponds to a perfect score.
The test-retest validity of IQ tests (which tests for gifted programs either expressly are or are equivalent to) is such that it's not unreasonable at all to think that people will consistently score at about the same place based on ability over a short time period (over a longer span there'll be some variation) and that being a prepared test taker isn't a particularly significant factor, though anxiety about testing or the particular test could depress scores and soothing that is the main benefit of test prep.
Yes, the levels most districts use a gifted cutoff are very high (usually 97th-99th percentile). Yes, that means very few (1-3%) will make the cut. No, this doesn't mean the people that make the cut are just test-taking prodigies.
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodhart's_law
For something at a first grade level, consider, say, spelling bees. I read a lot as a kid, and correspondingly did very well on things like that, but across the hundreds or thousands of words these things go through... well, the people at Scripps aren't just reading lots of books.
It's also been my experience that the people who implicitly understand something tend not to want to bother with recommended prep. That was me for CS courses, some calculus, and english/writing, where I got high grades but often not top of the class. I was on the opposite side for history and statistics (and outscored at least some of the people who are far better at those subjects than I am).
Basically, if you're gifted and already have knowledge of a subject, you probably don't really want to spend lots of time studying it. This leaves you vulnerable to the weird 5% of edge cases you haven't seen before. If you don't know the subject, and have to do a lot of prep, you're going to come across those cases during prep.
RE percentage vs percentile: I think you may be wrong here. Take for example, uni exams. 40% is the pass mark here in old Blighty. The exams are standardised and the 40% threshold is not a percentile. In fact, it makes almost no sense at all to stackrank every cohort of test takers. It wouldn’t be fair at all not comparable over time. I think the parent poster is correct. Doubtless the empirical distribution of real scores are used to decide cutoffs for grades, by 99% in the parents posts very likely refers to a percentage.
If none scores 99% then you just don’t take anyone ... in your method if everyone scored 0% you’d still take a bunch. I don’t think that makes any sense.
> in your method if everyone scored 0% you’d still take a bunch.
Yes, and they will. My understanding is it's still a normal school, just with a special selection of students; what are they going to do, shut down for the year?
Let everyone spend some time grouped by ability. Don't just burden them with more busy work. And please make sure the teachers running special programs have a clue what they're doing to kids...
edit: Furthermore, I always thought it pathetic that I went from being a very average student in 2 other countries, moved to America and was suddenly seen as a gifted genius who was years ahead of my peers in math and science. I've obviously never seen it that way - I think kids are capable of for more than the American school system expects of them, but their intellectual growth is being stunted at a very young age.
This keep gifted kids challenged while not pushing anyone through too fast.
There is a difference between subjects as well. I've been in choir with some "intellectually challenged" kids who had great voices: I was the one being challenged.
You're trying to waffle. Have your cake and eat it too.
If you can recognize the fact that there are times when you're just holding back some students, then propping up a gifted student in a normal class to "inspire" the rest is doing a disservice to that gifted student.
We aren't talking about children who are simply "smart", we're talking about children who are so far beyond their peers, it's clearly noticeable. It's the opposite end of the bell curve. Because we're talking about children who are testing at 135 or above.
BUT: in retrospect, those programs are mostly for kids who just happened to be fortunate enough to be born into the right circumstances at the right time. East Bay public schools were pretty good at the time, I was born just in time to learn about computers just ahead of the rest of the world, I had a somewhat stable home life, and my family supported learning and nerdy hobbies.
I was a social outcast for most of my youth too, but that had less to do with GATE and more to do with my family's obsession with being smarter than everyone else, which made me an insufferable, lazy little jerkwad. It took getting out into the world in my late teens to begin realizing just how much of an idiot I really was.
So, YMMV, but if I were a parent I'd at least give a local GATE program a try. (But also sports.)
Massive props to you for having the self-awareness to make that realization. So many people don't.
And so many smart people fail to realize that being smart is just one gift among many. And all things considered, once you reach a certain minimum, other attributes are probably more important in life success (like work ethic, and social ability). It took me until my mid-20s to make that realization.
I stood out so much in normal classrooms that it was difficult to participate. I was about three years or more ahead of everyone, reading at a college level in fourth grade while some students still struggled to read compound sentences. I felt very fortunate to be put in a class with a few people my age who were at a similar level of intellectual ability.
I only regret it wasn't around when I was young.
The elementary school one was amazing, and I would recommend it to anyone.
The middle school one was mediocre at best. I liked it, but it wasn't actually any better than regular classes.
So it can vary pretty wildly, even in the same school system.
But I've never heard of it being worse than regular school, worst case, you're with other gifted kids.
I do. I received about a year of therapy for the fact that my left hand quite literally doesn't know what my right hand is doing. That helped. But being clumsy still made school sports really unpleasant for me.
Just because sports was right for you doesn't mean that it is right for everyone.
Based on a sample size of one.
For any given activity X, there will be people for which X is a reasonable thing. That doesn't mean X is really important, it just means it's important for one person.
1) leadership qualities
2) coping with adversity
3) how to win and lose gracefully
4) coordination (all sports take practice)
5) fights childhood obesity
6) forces kids to be around other kids instead of in isolation
7) Experience working with a team from an early age
These will work for any child, not just me.
1) leadership qualities Constant reminders of how I was at the bottom of the totem pole didn't develop leadership for me. You develop leadership by doing something you are good at, not bad at. My positive experiences only happened much later in life.
2) coping with adversity I got lots of practice with adversity. Particularly when my physical challenges made me a target for bullying. I never noticed that the experience helped me cope with adversity though.
3) how to win and lose gracefully If by luck I wound up on a winning team in PE, it was clear to all that I did not contribute to the victory. I got practice at losing, but never noticed that the other children learned to be particularly graceful at winning.
4) coordination (all sports take practice) Did you notice the bit about my having a medical problem which required therapy? Yes, physical activity builds coordination. But the way it was done in school did not build mine. I wound up fixing that as an adult.
5) fights childhood obesity This I grant. Though it was superfluous in my case. Everyone in my family is skinny until at least 30.
6) forces kids to be around other kids instead of in isolation Given the way it made me a target for bullying, isolation would have been better.
7) Experience working with a team from an early age For me it was so demoralizing that I never felt like I was really part of any team until I was in my 30s. And when I did, it was programming that got me there, not sports.
These will work for any child, not just me. Bullshit. I am a definite counterexample to your theory. As you would have known if you paid attention to what I said before.
I am strongly in favor of all children who are physically capable of it getting exercise. But competitive sports are NOT a good idea for everyone.
Got all that from IT club (adversity being when things didn't go well - bugs, network crashes etc)
> how to win and lose gracefully
> fights childhood obesity
Not eating junk food seemed to work for me. I wouldn't be so arrogant to say that works for everyone though.
Not sure I would have ended up where I did but for their intervention.
The greatest teacher I ever had was a middle-school english teacher who marked strictly on the basis of attendance and participation, never opened a textbook, enthusiastically read aloud from books of his students' choice as if he were performing them professionally on stage for half the class time, and spent the other half of the time just casually discussing the books with the students. The first words he said to the class on day one was "I don't want to hear the word preposition, and I don't think you do either."
It's a living, evolving, consensus language. It can't be nailed down to an algorithm. It's a language in which writers who break the rules become legendary. Would James Joyce or Charles Dodgson or the Bard himself have diagrammed a sentence? Heck no. They played with grammar and spelling the way a child plays with a pile of lego: with enthusiasm and imagination and a gleeful disregard for the instructions.
My identity is complicated (and queer) and while my adolescence would have been a mess no matter what, having something that I could work hard on and had meaning - grades - made a ton of difference. At a school where everyone was an awkward geek, I didn't stand out.
I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
For a counter-anecdote, my experience of gifted programs is that it was the first place where I wasn't bullied for being more interested in books than sports. This didn't help me fit in with other kids my own age, but it did wonders for my self-confidence and significantly improved my odds of having a decent life.
My wife's experience is similar.
The moral is that gifted programs are not in and of themselves good or bad. What they are is good for some kids and bad for others. The trick is figuring out which is better for any particular kid.
... and the definition of experience is not anecdote.
I think that 2 years of experience qualify as data. Anecdote is when you walk in a street and slip casually in a banana skin once.
Admittedly, this is just my experience, and probably not statistically significant
Since you asked for a study, here you go (though I cannot speak for its correctness):
For anyone who doesn't want to download the link, the abstract states:
"We measured the frictional coefficient under banana skin on floor material. Force transducer with six degrees
of freedom was set under a flat panel of linoleum. Both frictional force and vertical force were simultaneously
measured during a shoe sole was pushed and rubbed by a foot motion on the panel with banana skin.
Measured frictional coefficient was about 0.07. This was much lower than the value on common materials and
similar one on well lubricated surfaces. By the microscopic observation, it was estimated that polysaccharide
follicular gel played the dominant role in lubricating effect of banana skin after the crush and the change to
Actually it is. Data is just many individual anecdotes collected. They just need interpretation.
Having a representative sample is essential to being able to do statistics. And collecting self-reported anecdotes does not constitute a valid sampling technique. It doesn't matter how your massage your observations afterwards, GIGO still holds and what you received was statistical garbage.
That's orthogonal. Whether the collection is representative or not individual data elements are still anecdotes.
(Plus, not all data is used for statistics, nor do we always have an advance knowledge of what is representative -- e.g. when researching an unknown domain).
The question is always what bias and whether collecting much less data yourself is preferable. Your non-submission sampling tactic may be biased too. (E.g. telephone questionnaires select for people having free time on demand. Emails select for people with bad spam filters and present in mailing list. Walking to ask has other limitations such as range and again availability. Asking third parties may be biased too, just like asking first parties.)
Usually when there are lots of unique submissions the question of bias or lack of representation can be put to rest.
If e.g. there are racial biases compared to baseline population due to submissions, this can be taken into account. Likewise if there is his due to some school districts responding less or more. You will have to handle these issues anyway.
If you guess what the representative sample might be, you may be committing scientific fraud...
In fact, anecdotes are the way in which we are able to make sense of the world at all. We do not as individuals do most of our learning via explicit statistical analysis.
Your essential point, however, stands in the sense that one should certainly not act as if anecdotes are statistically unbiased. And your average person is terrible at proper statistical reasoning. People tend to over-emphasize their own experience. (Though this is evolutionarily and historically useful - a feature, not a bug). So, yes, someone presenting their own anecdote or set of anecdotes as data is often misguided.
But there are, in fact, many studies (academic or industrial), that, are, in fact, just that! Collections of anecdotes. Self-reported experiences via surveys, error reports, reviews, and the like, which can be mined for data or looked at to see if there are any patterns.
There are issues such as "WEIRD" (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic) samples.
There are three basic approaches: Ignore the problem and use the results as-is. Declare the sample hopelessly biased and throw it out altogether until you can find a more representative sample. Or acknowledge the bias in the sample, but continue to use it along with careful annotations as a low-confidence best-guess until better data come along. The last is the obvious best approach in an ideal world, though biases such as motivated reasoning and poor reporting by the media often means that reporting such partial results can do more harm than good.
For a more mathematically grounded approach, you could apply Bayesian reasoning: take into account your priors (including the best guess of your expected bias in your sample compared to the distribution from which you are sampling), and figure out exactly how much evidence each anecdote constitutes. It might not be much, but it's something.
I'll close by mentioning that the quote is actually a misquote:
“I said ‘The plural of anecdote is data’ some time in the 1969-70 academic year while teaching a graduate seminar at Stanford. The occasion was a student’s dismissal of a simple factual statement–by another student or me–as a mere anecdote." - Wolfinger
For me, I needed to have a little bit more in common with my peers before I could even get traction socially. In fact, it might have been a net negative for me to be surrounded by other kids and cut off from them at the same time, because it messed with my confidence so badly. In the long run it is proving harder to unlearn the bad habits that stemmed from that than it was to learn basic social skills when I got the chance.
He says it didn't do much academically or in terms of later life, but it did do something he values very much: it gave him a normal childhood.
According to him, they took the ostracized nerds out of other schools and combined them so that some of them were the jocks of their school, some were the nerds, most were run-of-the-mill students, and so on.
He's pretty damn smart.
That's...not accurate. Gifted programs tend to increase the degree of personalization more than anything. Yes, most people who qualify for gifted programs at probably going to end up targeting at least a full grade up in each core curriculum area, but the programs don't do a straight bump.
> This is unnecessary burden on kids with a high risk that they can lose confidence or even burn out at tender age not willing to learn anything any more.
Gifted programs are actually targeted narrowly at a segment that is more at risk of burning out by being subjected to the unmodified mainstream curriculum.
> I think there are probably 1 in 1000 kids who are going to earn PhD by the age of 18.
There pretty clearly are not.
The program from 8-12 was what you described. Lots of random subject areas. Programming, history, chess, I learned how to build a mud brick hut (built a scale model and everything). Lots of self direction.
The program from 13 to 15 wasn't like that. It was more of a straight bump. We approximately did 2 years worth of core curriculum in one year and were then a year ahead for the remainder.
Unfortunately then at age 16 I and everyone else from that program re-entered the regular classrooms and had to do much of the same year's material again. It was really, really stupid.
Gifted programs reduce that.
See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gifted_At-Risk for more data points.
My family and my school did _not_ raise their expectations of me unreasonably. I quite enjoyed the rest of my school life, where I performed quite well but I certainly did not have perfect grades or come top of every class. Didn't win the dux/valedictorian award in my graduating class of ~30 kids in my rural high school, that went to a regular non-accelerated classmate.
I don't regret it in the slightest.
Conversely, I know people who were recognised as gifted students but who weren't generally accelerated out of concern for their social skills or whatever, some of them ended up having problems later on and should probably have just been accelerated and pushed out to higher education faster. And I also know people who are pretty clearly gifted, but went through school in the normal fashion and were entirely happy with that, good for them.
I think the key thing is it has to be about the needs of the child, not the egos of the parents.
Anyway, point is - gifted programs are useful for the kids who need them. And as a rural kid with a limited selection of schools and little by way of gifted program resourcing, I'm glad for the handful of teachers who made my individualised educational plan happen regardless - their special ed programs need more support, not less.
A friend of mine was in a much more rigorous gifted program (through Stanford) and I think it was the best thing that ever happened to him. He had a very poor home life but he's phenomenally brilliant (he's one of a specific handful of people I've personally met who I use that term for). All he really enjoyed doing from the time he was 12 was reading math and physics books. Going through the gifted program put him on a path that exercised his talents in a way that he found personally very fulfilling. He ended up finishing undergrad at Harvard before the age most kids become sophomores, and then completed a PhD from Harvard before the age most people even begin one.
Then he went on to work for the NSA and, later, a hedge fund. Those things probably look soulless to a lot of people, but he's very happy.
The "standard" class rooms are often too interrupted, occasionally by violence. I once saw an 8th grader tackle the hell out of a large administrator. The 8th grader was giant too though.
Kind of reminds of those fortune telling scams. i.e. The cards that you deal yourself will tell you the future. They tell you not to do it a second time in a row though ( for obvious reasons)
You showed too much respect for something not worthy of respect in my opinion.
When my step kids were tested they were interviewed by a psychologist for a couple of hours and did various IQ and aptitude tests. The report was quite thorough.
Essentially, this checks if you bribed the right people to have the answers for previous tests or even this one, connections and decent enough memory.
Welcome to America's latest educational scam.
A test to gauge progress is supposed to be almost fully secret and unpredictable to not bias for people cramming previous answers.
Speaking as someone who was in a gifted program in my youth (and who knew others in more advanced programs), I would like to caution against this perspective. My achievements are not notable, and I would not use that as a heuristic for determining whether or not a particular program/standard is successful or useful. Yet I found my experience to be very positive. Despite the fact that not all programs are created equal, I would generally recommend a suitable one to any parent with a gifted child.
I understand MENSA is a bit loaded since it can come across as pretentious, so let me reframe the example for you. Take a look at past winners of the Putnam exam. Most of them are not nearly as notable as cperciva, but they're all demonstrably gifted.
Giftedness is not about being entrepreneurial or about how you apply your intelligence in a notable way. Programs designed for gifted people are not trying to create a class of people who are more impressive. In general, they try to foster natural talent in a way that cannot typically be accommodated in the modal classroom setting.
1. For those unaware I'm referring to Colin Percival, an HN user who designed scrypt and developed Tarsnap. He won the Putnam.
IMHO there's a lot of smart people that compromise their health and well-being by forcing themselves to work too hard at being notable, and in itself I don't think these are the best objectives to strive for in life.
I hate to break it too you, but there’s no conspiracy or broken system, a lot of other kids just scored better than your daughter.
I think this is what they are actually looking for
I did a maths exam once where the top score possible was 120% (ironic!). The idea was you could ordinarily complete only enough to get 100%, but if you did complete more you got the marks for it.
Why don't they make it harder and differentiate more easily?
Was your test developed by Spın̈al Tap? What is the purpose for doing a test this way?
Would anyone care to join me
in flicking a few pebbles in the direction
of teachers who are fond of asking the question:
"What is the poet trying to say?"
as if Thomas Hardy and Emily Dickinson
had struggled but ultimately failed in their efforts—
inarticulate wretches that they were,
biting their pens and staring out the window for a clue.
Yes, it seems that Whitman, Amy Lowell
and the rest could only try and fail
but we in Mrs. Parker's third-period English class
here at Springfield High will succeed
with the help of these study questions
in saying what the poor poet could not,
and we will get all this done before
that orgy of egg salad and tuna fish known as lunch.
(1) Bruce McAllister's symbolism survey - a 16 year old high school student straight-up asked bestselling authors whether they put symbolism in their work, with various replies - https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2011/12/05/document-the-...
(2) Ogden Nash's "Very Like A Whale" - Nash wrote a short, rhyming essay about how frustrating it was that authors sometimes try to use rhetorical techniques to convey meaning obliquely - http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~pahk/poems/021221.html . It always makes me giggle.
"It's like reading a short story, but the author has less time to make their point."
That was a fun place to work.
A poem is a thought that tried
In vain, just once, before it died
To reach the page's right-hand side
Past the right margin a poem may poke,
With the help of HN's mighty block-quote.
I wonder what he was trying to say with that poem ;)
@dang fix your mobile css and styling.
HN quotes are fine on mobile. But, just to be clear, this is how HN does quotes:
And this is how HN does code blocks
On the other hand if you don't like each line spaced as a paragraph, as it would be if you try to keep the line structure I. HN non-code text, you can, on HN, use the same convention used everywhere else that it is impossible, impractical, or undesirable to set poetry while preserving the line structure:
“this is a line of poetry / and this is another line / each separated from the next with / a solidus set with space / on either side.”
Frankly, I think the author is being a bit disingenuous. Question 5 for example: What function does the stanza break serve? She says she put it where it is because she's a performance poet and thought it should go there. One, that isn't the question. The question isn't asking about the author's subjective state of mind, but to remark on the objective function of the stanza break. The subject of the poem clearly shifts at that point from reflecting on the weekend to talking about the anxiety of the upcoming day. Out of the answers presented, (C) is clearly the best answer. Two, the author's point simply begs the question. The break sounds good there because there is a structural break in the underlying poem. Her subjective impression of where the break should go reflects an objective fact about the structure of the poem.
The other questions are likewise quite straightforward. The website doesn't reproduce the full test booklet, but I suspect the prompt does not ask for the "right answer" but "the best answer out of the choices presented." The test is not asking students to plumb the depths of the author's pscyhe, but evaluate consistency or inconsistency between each answer choice and the objective aspects of the poem. It's not an exercise in literary analysis, it's an exercise in reading (knowing the meaning of words) and logical analysis.
Take Question 6: "The train is important to the poem because it represents..." Who knows what the author meant the train to represent? But to an objective observer, C ("following a planned routine") clearly "fits" the text better than the other answers. That's all the test is asking students to figure out.
If the goal of education in a democratic society is to produce an informed, well-rounded electorate then cultivating a relationship with art is as important as an understanding of science. It seems like we’re doing something else here though. I would hesitate to dismiss the damage done by a system that produces questions like these at the societal scale.
I think we all know why they're using poetry, though. They want to PRETEND to be testing ability at deep literary criticism.
The tests don't purported to be "testing ability at deep literary criticism." The kids aren't learning poetry, they're reading poetry to help develop general reading comprehension skills. If you look at the STAARS curriculum for Grade 8, the tested skills include:
> Students understand, make inferences and draw conclusions about the structure and elements of poetry and provide evidence from text to support their understanding.
That's exactly what the questions are asking about: the structure and elements of the poem.
And I'm sure they do get technical writing samples to analyze. Also poetry. Why? Why not! Why not, vary it up a bit. They could have done the same exercise with Rap lyrics.
Again, I'm not sure what the problem is?
>They want to PRETEND to be testing ability at deep literary criticism.
I think you need to manage your expectations. Kids aren't going to give you 'deep literary criticism'.
There's no point in _having_ a democracy without art.
When Milorad Pavic wrote that book “Dictionary of the Khazars” that was not too far from a call from genocide in print, no aesthetic training would have been useful then? Art correlates with history and I daresay you wouldn’t maintain informed citizens of a democracy don’t need to know history. Art tells you something about the motivations of an elite (which some of those citizens might be a part of someday), and what is chosen for a high culture tells you about where the place might be going.
Besides, you're not testing their artistic abilities, you're testing learning comprehension and and things they learned in English class. Do you know that we're graduating kids who are functionally illiterate? I think that's a bigger problem to tackle than worrying about how poetry is taught to kids.
>The point is that applying this model to art, something which has been essential to the human experience for tens of thousands of years, is a stultification of our culture for no better reason than that we want to measure something.
You say that but what are you basing this on? Just personal feelings?
>I would hesitate to dismiss the damage done by a system that produces questions like these at the societal scale.
I disagree. These are perfectly fine questions. In fact, if you converted to the education system to the montessori-style system that would be disastrous.
For evidence of the significance of art in the human experience, check the historical record. The oldest musical instruments are something like 50,000 years old. As far as I know, similar artifacts were not produced by any other hominids. On both the societal and the individual level, creative inspiration has done more to help people exceed their boundaries than any systemized rubric ever has.
I can believe that that this is your contention.
>There is no need to test for reading comprehension using a banal interpretation of poetry.
You say things as if they were obviously true.
>For evidence of the significance of art in the human experience, check the historical record.
I'm not sure what this red herring is supposed to do for your argument.
I've written some (bad) poems and asked people to tell me what it means for them and got some answers that are wildly different from my own. For example: I once described the sunrise as a "bleeding ceiling of the world", mainly because I needed a dramatic phrasing. But many people I asked thought it was about suicidial thoughts or death. Rather, I just wanted to emphasize the importance of (reaching) the sunrise while keeping the overall somber / grim tone I established in the first and second verse.
Which leads me to 'death of the author' vs. 'authorial intent'. What is the objective meaning of my metaphor? The readers or mine? And is my psychologists guess more valuable than that of a childhood friend of mine?
> Dissecting meaning like this is also where you get into the whole death of the author vs. authorial intent rabbit hole. And you can write whole books about that topic and which is also a quite subjective topic (I'm leaning more towards death of the author, as you might guess).
That is also just another interpretation of the metaphor. A kid on a small island country might not associate trains with a fixed daily schedule at all, because they only know about trains from other media. Your answer only is "objective" within cultures that can make that association between trains and schedules. In duringearly industrialization, the SAT answer might be that the train stands for the unrelenting progress of technology and how it sucks all live out of factory workers (see charlie chaplins 'modern times').
It's simply not useful to anyone except exam paper sellers and politicians who want numbers to put in election material and don't care how many years of other people's lives are wasted to make those figures appear to mean something.
That sort of lame education system needs putting out of its misery.
What function does the stanza break serve? She says she
put it where it is because she's a performance poet and
thought it should go there.
The teacher was writing her because he himself couldn't figure out where the stanza breaks were and had to ask.
“objective observer” is a phrase that indicates a failure to understand either objectivity or observation, but, in the context of a reader of a written text, a distressingly common failure in the society that views the narrowest forms of biblical literalism (and also, arguably, Constitutional textualism) as even coherent, much less correct.
Correct answer to the question about capitalization: "I don't know; neither do you; somebody could trivially ask the poet; regardless it's not really of primary importance; and arguably (postmodernism) the answer is up to me anyway."
Precisely. Another bugbear is questions of the type 'On a scale of 1-10, how convinced are you that measuring is a form of knowing?' with response options 'Not convinced', 'Somewhat convinced', etc.
I've never understood how someone could master a subject and yet be unable to answer any questions about it.
In my experience, people who did well on tests tended to understand the topic, and the people who didn't do well made excuses.
In classes where I knew the subject well, I generally did well on the tests. In classes where I had gaps in my understanding, I usually did poorly. In classes where the grades were posted publicly, my general subjective judgment of how well people knew the material matched up with their scores. Not perfectly, obviously, but the correlation has been high enough that I’ve never really been convinced that testing in general is “missing” some critical element of learning.
It would be a lot more acceptable if deviation of test scores from skill were to be totally random for every test.
These all affect how well you test, but do not determine your skill in the subject. Hence, having a disadvantage in any of the above gives you a system disadvantage in the educational system.
For one, the latter are often bullshit, as TFA points out. For two, they measure all sorts of stuff aside from actual proficiency. If nothing else, unless they took all the same classes - literally the same classes - throughout their school careers to date, no two kids got the same education. As anyone who's got the vaguest training in science can tell you, that kind of uncontrolled variability in your population will destroy any validity your measure might have. And lastly, so often these standardized tests really do have hacky questions put together with hack procedures. For my part, I distinctly remember completely stumping an IQ test proctor when I was a kid (yeah, I had helicopter parents). I had 5 cards, each showing a house, with the sun and shadows in different positions. I was supposed to put them in the correct order. So, naturally, my first move was to ask if the pictures showed the north or south side of the house.
There's no standardized test that measures the kinds of reasoning skills that really matter in life, such as the kind you'd use to make an educated guess that a question is being asked by the kind of people who would assume, unwittingly, that east is always on the right hand side.
I would expect the intelligent test taker to understand the test was not a trick, and that unstated assumptions mean use the defaults.
As for math, there are many ways to teach math, but 2+2=4 in all of them. It is reasonable to assume it is base 10, not base 3, unless the test said "in base 3".
Also good tests are hard to write. I’ve seen T/F questions that could go either way. Multiple choice questions with more than one correct answer. (Professors will tell you to choose the “best” answer. But that’s a matter of opinion in many, if not all, cases.)
I think what someone can DO with their knowledge is more important than what individual bits of knowledge they maintained. I’d rather hire or work with someone who can get things done and knows certain algorithms exist than hire or work with someone who can’t get anything done but can recite the same algorithms from memory. Tests favor the second person. (I was that person in HS calculus. Aced the class without understanding a thing just because I have a gift for remembering and applying rules. I had no idea what I was doing.)
This is why I am so glad that all of my university exams (and the _vast_ majority of exams before that, at least post-Y9/age 13) were open-ended questions, then marked by someone who will (likely) know the subject better than you even will. Even if you couldn't get the the answer, but could understand and articulate the starting points, or made a compelling argument but misread or misunderstood part of the question, you will at least get partial credit. The physics exams would also have a standardised formulae reference sheet.
 A typical paper would be three hours, answering 5-6 questions, and a typical subquestion can be as open-ended as "Write brief notes about a tree representation of functional arrays, subscripted by positive integers according to their representation in binary notation. How efficient are the lookup and update operations?"
E.g. Say I forgot the formula for Simpson's Rule on a test, but remember that it had to do with approximating integrals with trapezoids. Someone who thoroughly understands the course material could re-derive this formula in under 5 minutes if they had forgotten.
Right. And if you know the material, this isn't a problem.
Particularly with multiple-choice tests, this is not only possible, but in my experience common. It became a kind of running joke among my classmates that we know our teachers, not the material - over time we just learned the quirks of whoever designed the test and eliminated the wrong answers based on that.
Why waste your time learning that? Just learn the material. I'm often bemused by the effort people put into avoiding learning the material, much more than it would take to just learn the material.
Still learning how to do "Professor X's questions" was a guaranteed ace. Forget the subject, memorize the borderline cases, max grade. Do all exercises on the text book, also, get a second text book and do all of those too, and you might fail the test.
He laughed, and said the stupid kids needed a break.
In the end, tests end up approving a lot of people that learned next to nothing, as I myself succeeded in several by memorizing for the short term. I couldn't tell how many jingles I used to go through tests. In rarer cases, they also bombing someone with a reasonable understanding of the subject that maybe just was having a bad day or was sick.
And it might be safe to assume a high test score is repeatable.
The challenge is to find a test that correlate high scores with good knowledge - not merely with being good at taking tests.
Because rarely do we care about how good someone is at taking tests; we'd like to measure how good their knowledge is. That's hard to do if we only can infer poor knowledge from a poor test result, but not good knowledge from a good test result.
How about spoken English? I know a great many people who are able to express themselves clearly and gramatically - surely mastery of spoken English - but ask them what the rule is for order of adjectives or some such and many of them would even need to double check what an adjective is.
The question of this nature about the English language would be "how do I know what order to put adjectives in?" and the answer would be something along the lines of "opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose".
I do think they would be unable to answer. The rule of course then goes deeper, into ablaut reduplication and so on. People master spoken English without knowing anything  about it.
 Yes, I know, I said "anything" and now your literalist side is jumping in joy at being able to say "Aha, aha, they DO know at least one thing and therefore your statement is not literally correct!" I don't care.
Except, they can answer questions to show what they know, they just can't answer your carefully selected subset of questions with the exact answers you demand using the terminology you demand.
Draw an arbitrary line around the allowable questions and you can make every group of experts, "people who can't answer questions about it". But what use is that?
And the idea of doing so is a fairly recent (and I would say toxic) invention. The concept of graded tests, marks and class grades (A, B, C etc) are all only a bit more than 100 years old. They're a product of the industrialisation of schooling.
I agree that currently, education systems are terrible, but is there any way to maintain them at scale that is not?