Rev. David O. Jones

Testing is always a concern with parents and students. It has become the custom to evaluate and assign grades to a student based upon test results. Students become overly concerned with test performance, resulting in a psychological tension when facing a test. No student wants to see a question they can’t answer and no parent wants to see a test paper with incorrect answers.

Successful entrepreneur Robert Kiyosaki comes from a family of educators and has founded the Excellerated Learning Institute. In his book “If You Want To Be Rich & Happy, Don’t Go To School,” he proposes that our educational system is teaching children how to be failures later in life by planting seeds of failure. “Our educational system teaches that being right is more important than learning what you don’t know. It rewards right answers and penalizes us for making mistakes.”

The “system” has caused us to allow a test to be the final determination in a student’s learning. The parent-educator is conditioned by the “this-is-the-way-it’s-done” syndrome to judge the student by test results and then continue. The student then learns how bad it is to make a mistake and becomes more cautious about the next test. The result is that more attention is focused on a 15 to 60 minute performance than on the increased knowledge the student has actually obtained.

“Students are not taught how to learn from mistakes. They are conditioned to believe mistakes are bad. In real learning, however, mistakes are essential” (Kiyosaki). Most people fail to try because they are afraid to try and fail. The Apostle Peter is a good example for us in failure. He failed when he denied Christ during Christ’s trial, yet he preached victoriously on Pentecost. He failed again in his leadership of the church in Jerusalem when he joined with the Judaizers and has to be confronted by Paul. Peter learned from his mistakes. That is exactly what we are to do!

Student testing is an opportunity to find out what the student still needs to learn. A test should never be graded, recorded and discarded. The test should be the road map for what needs to be studied more thoroughly. Each test should answer the question, “Where do we go from here?” The student should be trained, told, and encouraged again that the test is their opportunity to guide their own learning.

We all need to know what we don’t know, whether in spelling, in mathematics, or in life. It’s the little pop quizzes and chapter tests in life that help us on our journey.