The reform must come at the source of the questions that constitute the examination. When examiners have grown broad enough in their conception of education to construct questions that will test for intelligence, we shall soon be rid of such an incubus upon educational progress as a book of questions and answers. The field is wide and alluring. History, literature, the sciences, and the languages are rich in material that can be used in testing for intelligence, and we need not resort to petty chit-chat in preparing for examinations.
=The way of reform.=—We must take this broader view of the whole subject of examinations before we can hope to emerge from our beclouded and restricted conceptions of education. And it can be done, as we know from the fact that it is being done. Here and there we find superintendents, principals, and teachers who are shuddering away from the question-and-answer method both in the recitation and in the examination. They have outgrown the swaddling-clothes and have risen to the estate of broad-minded, intelligent manhood and womanhood. They have enlarged their concept of education and have become too generous in their impulses to subject either teachers or pupils to an ordeal that is a drag upon their mental and spiritual freedom.
1. What purposes are actually achieved by examinations?
2. What evils necessarily accompany examinations? What evils usually accompany them?
3. Outline a plan by which these purposes may be achieved unaccompanied by the usual evils.
4. Is memory of facts the best test of knowledge? Suggest other tests by which the value of a pupil’s knowledge may be judged.
5. Experts sometimes vary more than 70 per cent in grading the same manuscript. The same person often varies 20 per cent or more in grading the same manuscript at different times. An experiment with your own grading might prove interesting.
6. Do you and your pupils in actual practice regard examinations as an end or as a means to an end? As corroborating evidence or as a final proof of competence?
7. How may examinations test intelligence?
8. Suggest methods by which pupils may be led to distinguish major from minor and to see things in their right relations.
9. Is it more desirable to have the pupils develop these powers or to memorize facts? Why?
10. Why are “question and answer” publications antagonistic to modern educational practice? Why harmful to students?