At a town hall hosted by the Univision, Barack Obama reflected on testing and student assessment. According to the Associated Press,
“One thing I never want to see happen is schools that are just teaching the test because then you’re not learning about the world, you’re not learning about different cultures, you’re not learning about science, you’re not learning about math,” the president said. “All you’re learning about is how to fill out a little bubble on an exam and little tricks that you need to do in order to take a test and that’s not going to make education interesting.” “And young people do well in stuff that they’re interested in,” Obama said. “They’re not going to do as well if it’s boring.”
This sounds great in theory, but many of the things that students need to know (and are tested on) are inherently boring. And as Neil Postman pointed out in Amusing Ourselves to Death, efforts (like Sesame Street) to make education fun often undermine the learning process by engendering false assumptions about knowledge and information.
Of course, if our schools limited themselves to the things that kids found interesting, we could shorten the school year considerably.