My test results came back. I am negative for Lyme's Disease and other tick-related illness. This came as a surprise to some of my friends who have had Lyme's and say my symptoms were similar. The doctor said it is possible we caught it before it actually registered as Lyme, so maybe it was, but the tests say no. At any rate, I am feeling better.
Speaking of tests, Marina just had a big one recently. She took the placement exams for the nearby community college. High scores in English language. Her essay hasn't been graded yet. Low scores in math and algebra, which really wasn't a surprise to me, but it did get me thinking.
You see, I know what my daughter is capable of. People talk to her and are impressed. She draws upon a well of knowledge in conversation and easily shifts from one topic to the next. There is nothing she cannot do if she sets her mind to it. But she managed to inherit my ability to panic in the face of a test.
What is it about our society that it holds the exam up as the one true measure of aptitude? It is such an arbitrary tool. I consider myself adept at composing a coherent essay, but I would be hard pressed to do it in one hour, hand-written. At best, I would finish it, but it wouldn't be my best work. I like to write, then read over, then mull over, then add or remove as inspiration comes to me. The computer has become my best favorite tool because I can type faster than I can write. And the word processor allows me to be creative in editing. I am the queen of cut and paste. Marina used a computer for the test, so why did she need to write out the essay by hand? Are they planning some handwriting analysis along with a critique of her essay?
As for the math test, I take responsibility for not regularly having her refresh her memory about algebra. That was a dark year in our lives and I was happy to leave it behind as I mended her lost confidence in math. Geometry was much easier for her. Perhaps if I had saved algebra for this year she would have been able to get through it. Or perhaps she would have blanked anyway. Who knows? The first time I gave her a timed test, she did terribly. Just the idea that she was being timed made her panic and guess her way through it. The following year I took great pains to keep her calm and she spent more time reviewing, which resulted in a higher score. Hmmm...I suddenly realize I was teaching to the test.
It would be wonderful if we realized that people are individuals, not some sort of Borg collective. We are all creative and we should use our gifts to the betterment of our society. That creativity presents itself as our own unique set of talents and perspective on the world. Some of these talents test well, some do not. How sad that so many have to set aside their natural gifts for the sake of passing a test. Sadder still that an entire industry has grown for the sake of passing these tests. No wonder we can't figure out how to plug an oil leak. We have given up our potential in favor of a passing grade. The question is, when will we learn?
Marina is beginning a new journey. I have no idea how it will turn out, but I hope she always maintains her love of learning and her creative spirit. I think that would be much more fulfilling than a perfect score on a test.