The New York Times’ Week in Review on Sunday followed up on its Science Times story from last Tuesday, “Forget What You Know About Studying,” with a page-one story called “Testing, The Chinese Way.” (See also here and here.)
Writer Elisabeth Rosenthal tells the story of living in China and sending her two young children to a school that “blended a mostly Western elementary school curriculum with the emphasis on discipline and testing that typifies Asian educational styles.” According to Rosenthal, the “march of tests for young children” was normal in China.
I remember nearly constant tension between the Asian parents, who wanted still more tests and homework, and the Western parents, who were more concerned with whether their kids were having fun — and wanted less.
Rosenthal makes a small nod toward the American educators who “recoil at the thought of more tests,” but it’s pretty clear that she’s on the side of the angels — those who “hail” the increased emphasis on testing “as a step forward from the ideological dark ages.”
She quotes Gregory J. Cizek, a professor of educational measurement and evaluation at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:
Research has long shown that more frequent testing is beneficial to kids, but educators have resisted this finding… What’s best for kids is frequent testing, where even if they do badly, they can get help and improve and have the satisfaction of doing better…. Kids don’t get self-esteem by people just telling them they are wonderful.