Though, why their parents subject some of them to this torture -- and pay for it to boot -- is beyond me. These are good little suburban kids. They're well-behaved and totally freaked out that their already relatively good scores aren't good enough, yet they are bored shitless by the test itself. As much as I think the standardized testing industry is a ripoff and that the tests themselves don't necessarily predict all that well how well some kids will (or won't) do in a college environment, there's something to be said about curiosity for curiosity's sake and engagement with challenges. Back when I took the SAT, I actually WANTED to know what all the words meant (I couldn't sleep at night if I didn't look them up!), and I'd get into the readings in spite of myself. And I didn't even study that much, just flipped through a book after my other homework was done. I certainly NEVER would have paid money (nor would my parents have) to have somebody tell me things like "look for the definition of the word you're trying to find in the surrounding context" and "use process of elimination to narrow down your choices."
Shouldn't these things be obvious to college-bound high school juniors and seniors who have attended reasonably "good" schools and earned reasonably good grades?
Well, on the one hand, I'm happy to get them up to speed, but, on the other, aren't curiosity and engagement the qualities we'd like to see in college students rather than the regurgitation of test-taking strategies they've acquired in expensive prep classes?
Seems to me that priorities all up and down academe's spectrum are screwed up.
* * * * *
But you know what? I miss being in a classroom. I mean, not enough to go back to adjuncting or the academic job market or the culture of denial, delusion, and bullshit that surrounds it. But I do miss that environment. A classroom. It's a place where your purpose, in theory at least, is to think freely, to express yourself freely, to learn, to explore, to dream, to aspire, to discover, to grow, to grow up, to expand, to take risks, to push your limits ... maybe even to evolve into your humanity.
Maybe I'm being too idealistic (feel free to throw up a little in your mouth), but I've never said here or anywhere else that I didn't believe in the value or importance of an education. I just think something has gone very, very wrong with our system. I don't know how or why it went wrong, and I don't know how to fix it. But it will be a scary world 100 years from now -- if we don't destroy ourselves first -- if we can't figure out how.