"What is the capital of Assyria?"
Sir Robin pauses. He can't remember. And, in this instance, how he responds is a matter of life and death.
Not so for the majority of children in school today. Such a question matters little.
I felt the same way as I read through student's answers to other questions. I couldn't shake the nagging thought, 'Why are these questions even on a test?'
Put another way: When was the last time you needed to recall an answer from something on a high school test? When has that information applied to your daily life?
These questions all have answers. These answers are all on the internet (or have been spelled out by your teacher). There is no reason, therefore, to keep this information in your head. If you need it, you will pick it up through the osmosis of daily usage. In other words: Questions with answers are easy.
I'm far more interested in questions without an answer. "What started the War of Independence?" is a question without an answer. Not that we don't know many of the significant catalysts for rebellion against the crown. But simplifying the motivation to "taxation without representation" isn't the full story. And it's certainly not enough to die for in battle.
I test well, so I understand the importance of regurgitating memorized responses onto paper. But right now, thinking back to the questions I was asked on tests, I realize I don't recall most of that content. Because, like the capital of Assyria, it doesn't impact my life. What does impact my life is how political undertones can incite rebellion.
I loved my Sonlight education because I talked about the difficult questions with my parents. I didn't realize until high school that regurgitation was the norm of modern education.
To laugh at students who have failed to properly swallow their lessons so as to vomit them up again at a later date feels lame to me.
Looking at test questions today, what do you recall of their answers?
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester