Since flunking my CDL class the other day, I’ve been trying to figure out a way to blame everyone except myself, of course. I haven’t been that successful at it, especially since it was the air-brake section that I flunked. For my own safety, air brakes are something that I should know inside and out. It DID get me to thinking, though, about my beliefs concerning teaching and tests, in general.
To begin with, let me say that I don’t have much liking or respect for public school teachers as a group. In my past, I had two or three absolutely wonderful, motivational teachers. I also had two or three horrible, psychopathic teachers who belonged either in a mental institution, or behind bars. All the rest were various shades of depressingly mediocre.
College was a different story, but only because it was a private college, I believe. Those colleges that are considered as state colleges and universities seem to have about the same disgusting mix as secondary public schools from what I’ve heard. Let’s face it, some teachers could teach sex to fourteen-year-olds and make it boring.
My greatest personal beef with secondary school was with those who taught history. Every year, when I first got my textbook, I’d read it front to back, laughing at the propaganda the liberal writers inserted, but thoroughly enjoying all the rest. Then, I wouldn’t pick up the book for the rest of the year, making passable grades by simply paying attention in class. I’ve loved history since before I could read—always interested in the what’s, the why’s and the how’s of the old days. I was NOT that interested in the who’s or the when’s and, frankly, most of the time, those facts are NOT that important to understanding the onward march of time, though sometimes it’s important to know the ORDER of things.
Tests, of course, belabored the very things that mattered least in my opinion, both then and now. Dry, boring facts are the forte of dry, boring instructors, so such questions abound on most tests. Essay questions best prove whether a person understands a subject, but they require that the teacher be able to reason as well or better than the student. I suppose that explains the preponderance of “multiple guess” questions on modern tests; that and the machine-gun teaching methods of teachers who feel pushed for time, due to irrational demands by administrators and such.
The so-called “trick question” is perhaps the most disgusting thing on most tests. I believe that they are designed not to prove the understanding of those taking the test, but to feed the ego of those designing the test by making them feel more intelligent than their students. Such questions may test the reading ability of the person being tested, or their comprehension of the English language, but they do NOT test the student’s knowledge of the subject (unless that subject happens to BE English). More often, they simply test the trust the student has in the teacher to be concerned about truly teaching them the material and testing them fairly—a trust that is destroyed 99% of the time.
These things being said, I happen to like my current instructor. He really is trying his best to teach the subject to his students as simply as possible. Unfortunately, he doesn’t design the tests. But that’s okay, I’ll play their little games and still pass next time, I believe. Plus, for my sake and everyone else’s, I’ll master those air-brakes! © 2014