Monthly Archives: May 2022

What is testing for?

Wait. You thought testing was to judge how well you know your material? Isn’t that adorable!

You have to see who’s looking at the test and how it is used in relationship to the material. Sounds complicated? Maybe. Let’s break it down.

The teacher writes the test:

  1. The teacher grades it and the student’s knowledge is assessed. It is a tool to see how much the student has learned over the course. It may be a chapter; it may be a concept; it may be the entirety of the semester’s contents.
  2. The teacher grades it and the student’s understanding is assessed. It’s a tool to see how well the teacher has communicated the information or the concepts. This is done on a smaller scale so you will see pop quizzes. The teacher uses the testing and measuring to improve her method of teaching. You don’t do that at the end of the semester—it’s too late!
  3. The test is graded by a 3rd party. It could be a grad student or a computer. The assessment results in a graph of normalized behavior. This is a testing measurement, not a comparison to see if people in the class are deranged or mentally unstable.

If the bulk of the students are getting an A at 95% then the test indicates that the material covered is fairly easy to understand. If the bulk of the students are getting Ds at 70%, the material is very difficult. It is a test of the Material, not the Teacher’s performance or the Students’ performance. This information is used by colleges and institutions that want to limit access. The flaw in this is that the test cannot include essay questions because grad students and computers do not grade like the teacher does…knowing the individuals who are taking the test and the way they communicate. What do I mean by limiting access? On the secondary or post-secondary level, the test is given to discern whether the student can “test out” of the class. He or She already understands the concepts and the uses of the materials and can be admitted into a more advanced class. In sports, it separates those with natural talent from those with average talent. It does not measure the amount of work, dedication, and innovation an athlete has devoted to the sport. For instance, if the football or soccer try-outs include a 40-meter dash with a minimum time requirement, it doesn’t reveal how well the player manipulates the ball over those 40 meters, how well they can out-maneuver the opposing players, or how long they can sustain the speed. There are other tryout requirements, of course, but this test is the make or break for the aspiring player.

The teacher does not write the test:

When would this happen?!

  1. The test is generated by knowledgeable people in the field: academia, industry, or physical performance. It is supposed to exemplify the ideal qualities that indicate a high probability of success in the organizations.
  2. The test is generated by people designing an avatar that embodies the ideal qualities of the members of their organizations. These may be unrealistic.
  3. The test is generated by a computer based on the questions most missed in assessment tests in order to weed out undesirables.

 In that case, let’s revisit the outcomes:

  1. The teacher grades the test. It is used to compare what the testing institution thinks is important. The teacher compares the answers of the students to the ideals set by the organization and then teaches to the test! It has no bearing on whether the student truly understands the material. It has everything to do on whether the student understands what the test writers think is important.
  2. There are no pop quizzes because the teacher doesn’t decide what are important components of the material. The main focus is pitting the students against the test writers.

For instance, in the 20 or so years I have been in the finance industry, I have never seen a viatical agreement…an agreement whereby a terminally ill person sells the “benefit” of their life insurance to another company in return for 50% of the benefit immediately. The company continues to pay premiums. On a $100,000 policy, the client gets $50,000 now to pay off debts, take a vacation with the family, or find alternative treatment procedures. When the client dies, the company, not his family, receives the $100,000. The company makes $50,000 for a 6–9-month investment. Yet, the insurance test had 7 questions of the about viatical settlements out of the 150 questions on the test.

  • The test is graded by a third party. This is mainly a computer. Once again, there are no essay questions because computers cannot grade essays. It purports to assess the fitness of the individual for the position sought. It does not. It ACTUALLY assesses how well the applicant takes a test. The purpose of the test is to eliminate as many applicants as possible for such reasons as
  • making the business appear to be elite
  • implying that a higher cost for admission into this group is merited
  • reducing the burden on the trainers by ensuring that the applicants that pass the test will be familiar with those testing methods and able to at least approximate knowledge of the material needed to be competent at the job

This kind of test is the most common test you will run up against!

This is insidious! When third parties get into the assessment of participants, many times the material deemed “important” is determined by people who have no idea what they’re doing. They can insert a political agenda into the curriculum. They can test on things that do not matter in the real world. They can insist on a bias or quality that is in no way related to the requirements of the job.

Imagine if the boxing association was run like this.

“All boxers should be equipped to defend themselves in the ring. They should be schooled in the correct fundamentals of both offensive and defensive strikes and blocks. They must take an 8-hour ethics course every other year and have a required 3-hour sensitivity training course every quarter. Gym trainers and coaches will enforce a strict uniform requirement. There shall be no policies regarding the color of the trunks, and all trunks should be no more than 4” above the knee when the participant is kneeling. Tattoos may be in black ink and have no racial or ethnic references. The fighters’ names can only be last names, no descriptive titles. Hate speech will not be tolerated.”

It sounds lofty…Mohammed Ali would not have qualified. Rocky Marciano would not have qualified.

Many tests in the educational system are devised by people outside the educational field. In fact, a teacher, having gone through four or five grueling years of classes and certification activities such as student teaching and tutoring, may graduate with honors and still be refrained from teaching in school systems because they must pass a state-required competency test. Remember that these teachers had to get by the educational access test required by the college to even get INTO the education-major program.


When you are taking a test, consider the test itself. Is it a standardized test required by the government? Is it a standardized test required by the industry? Is it taken on a computer without essay questions? Then the results do not reflect what you know about the material, they just show how well you take a test. If the test is written and graded by a teacher, they are testing 2 things: First, how well do you pay attention in class or know your material, and Second, how well is the material

What is WRONG with these people?!!!

The Scene:

A couple out in the woods. They wander off the path to a secluded spot next to a stream under a willow tree. He spreads out a blanket and she sets up the picnic. A breeze picks up and suddenly a body, several days dead, drops onto their picnic. Screams ensue! The theme music of the show comes up and introduces all the characters.

The experts:

1. The “Bones” people show up in their blue coveralls and ship the tree, the remains, the picnic, the stream, and all the ants to the Jeffersonian for analysis.

Unintended Consequences: All the janitors at the Jeffersonian quit.

2. The medical examiner from NCIS and his assistant talk to the mess that used to be a human and tell the body that they will find the culprit and bring them to justice. They have jurisdiction because the victim WORE his medal of honor with his name engraved on the back of it.

UC: The victim talks back to the examiner, Ducky, and he is transported in a straight-jacket to the nearest facility as he repeatedly mutters “I am Not Illya Kuryakin.”

3. The CSI Miami team shows up in Brilliant White pants and pastel shirts and $800 shoes, picks up a single hair from the blanket that doesn’t belong to the couple or the victim, and leaves the scene without having to spend a small fortune in dry cleaning.

UC: The CSI Miami team gets back to the lab where they discover who’s having an affair with a member of the team, examine daddy issues, interview the couple and their nanny and their teenage son to discover they’re barking up the wrong tree.

4. The CSI Las Vegas team waits until it is dark before going to the scene and wanders around in the dark with their flashlights. One of the botanists on the team climbs the tree and locates a single fingerprint on one of the leaves.

UC: The CSI Las Vegas team gets back to the lab where they discover one of their team is still at the scene because his flashlight went dead and he got lost.

5. The BAU (Behavioral Analysis Unit of the FBI) shows up with a tracker who locates the distinct footprint of the probable assailant. They deduce that the unsub (unknown subject) is a 5’10”, 180-pound, red-haired man, 37 years old with a graduate degree in accounting and a slight limp on his left leg due to an unfortunate encounter with a coffee table.

UC: The BAU gets back to the lab and has their computer geek find all the accountants graduating from all the colleges in the Miami area that are now 37 years old, weigh 180 pounds, and have a coffee table with a dent in it. Derek Morgan breaks down the door, even if it isn’t locked. He likes breaking down doors.

6. Sam and Dean Winchester show up and interview the traumatized couple and ask them about the smell of sulfur. Then they interview the tree.

UC: The willow tree grabs Sam and Dean and throws them around saying something in “Treeish” while they hack off branches and speak in Latin.

7. Dexter goes to the guy’s house and puts a needle in his neck.

UC: The culprit is covered in plastic wrap on a table and Dexter asks why he only attacks members of the military and where he gets these false medals of honor, then he stabs him with a flag pole.

My question is this: What are these writers smoking?

Where does talent come from?

Wait! You can’t get it at the department store? I’m disillusioned!

How do we define “talent” and when is that term used?

Definition of talent

1aa special often athletic, creative, or artistic aptitude

b: general intelligence or mental powerABILITY

2: the natural endowments of a person

5: (archaica characteristic feature, aptitude, or disposition of a person or animal

Thank you Merriam Webster.

When you watch Eddie Van Halen play guitar, you will hear him described as extremely talented. When you look at Michaelangelo’s work, you will gasp at his grasp of the human form, an amazing artistic talent. When you ask Einstein anything, you don’t think talent, you think genius. When you watch someone do anything that is beyond the ordinary in the physical world…fine arts, or sports, we call them talented. When you see the results of mental ability beyond the ordinary, we classify it as an expression of genius. They’re the same thing.

Why is that important? I’ve been told that I am a talented musician. I am not in an orchestra or in the opera. I can, however, play Bach’s Prelude in C from the Well-Tempered Clavier in any key you want. But I think many musicians cringe at that term because it seems to discount the amount of work it takes to get to any level of mastery.

I know plenty of musicians in orchestras that cannot play anything without the sheet music. They are technically brilliant, but not exactly talented. Of the 165 musicians that graduated in my class, only 5 could play by ear. Many music teachers won’t work with students that play by ear because the students learn the song by hearing it, and may not hear it the way it is written. So NOT ALL MUSICIANS ARE TALENTED. They put in a lot of work. People tend to equate skill and talent. Do they do that in intellectual fields too?

If someone has multiple degrees in many different fields, are they talented at learning? Or are they geniuses? What are your thoughts? Can a learning process that allows people to acquire knowledge in multiple areas be learned? Does knowledge in one discipline translate to another discipline? People that can make that transition from one subject to another and almost instantly “know” what pertains and what doesn’t are considered intuitive. How much intuition do geniuses display?

So let’s examine intuition. This should be interesting. Picture your brain as an electrical machine.

All your thoughts, insights, memories, and powers of logic work like sparks in your mind. Somehow, your mind is able to retrieve whatever information it needs at the time it needs it. For instance: how does my brain know where all the letters on my keyboard are and tell each finger when and where to push to get the words I want while simultaneously allowing my eyes to see misspellings and mistakes in grammar and my conscious mind to think what the next word is supposed to be? It’s A MIRACLE! It is also simultaneously processing the fact that my husband is typing on his work computer, the mailman is on his way up the hill, and the speed of the wind because it buzzes my siding at 25 mph.

What is intuition then?

a: the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference

bimmediate apprehension or cognition

c: knowledge or conviction gained by intuition

That means that presented with a set of circumstances, a person with a high degree of intuition can immediately understand the situation without “apparently” figuring things out. A person with talent in music can figure out the chord progressions, the beat, and the melodic or harmonic notes that can be played as improvisation. A person without talent would have to see the progression, chart out the available notes, compose a solo and learn it by practicing. The talented musician makes use of his intuition to project what is coming up in the accompaniment and adjust his improvisation accordingly.

Someone that gets on the elevator with his boss and who then can give a short synopsis of the project he’s working on without writing it out and reciting it is using his intuition to figure out what the boss needs to be told and in how much detail.

Someone that is sitting on a train and upon going past a train in the opposite direction comes up with a theory of relativity has used his intuitive power to see the connection between time and space.

What is happening is that the connections in the mind from one thing to a completely different thing are bouncing around near the boundary between the conscious and subconscious mind in such a way that there is an instant recognition of the relationships between these things.

How do you increase the size of this opening between conscious and subconscious?








Nope, it’s PLAYING! If you want to learn how to improvise on a musical instrument, you just play and make LOTS of mistakes. You pick up what sounds good and what doesn’t. You find out what your fingers can do, and what they need to rework. You find out how to make what you hear in your head come out of your fingers. You experiment.

You want to learn how to skateboard? You’re going to break a lot of bones.

You want to do perfect diving? You’re going to do lots of belly flops.

You want to write the Great American Novel? You’ll write the Grate American Novel 1st that will make you cringe to read.

You want to be a genius? Read a lot and ask lots of questions! Flunk a lot of tests. You’re probably backing off now. You think that you have to be born a genius. I do not believe you do. If you develop your intuition, expand your awareness, and become facile in the art of interaction between the conscious and subconscious, you get more sparks flying. Originally, the Intelligence Quotient compared your apparent mental age to your actual age. What should a 5-year-old know? What does THIS 5-year-old know? If the 5-year-old knows stuff that 8-year-olds know, then 8/5 x 100 gives you 160 IQ. To maintain that 160 IQ, what would his apparent mental age have to be when he’s 10? 16. What would it have to be if he was 30? 48. What is the difference between what a 48-year-old person and a 30-year-old know? Yeah. Hard to figure that out. They don’t have knowledge standards for every age, do they?

You develop your talent/intuition by playing and having fun. Do Sudoku puzzles. Kick a soccer ball around. Pick up a different instrument. Read some philosphy. Write a poem. Consider the origins of the Universe. Make those sparks Fly!