Re: authenticity

Nick Carbone (nickc@MARLBORO.EDU)
Fri, 23 Aug 1996 11:15:49 -0400

On Thu, 22 Aug 1996, Dave Lewis wrote:

> I was thinking of the minimalist exercises that we use in the "right
> answer" subjects like math, science, grammar etc, where we give "objective"
> tests with multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, diagram-that-sentence or
> even
> write-a-paragraph-about-something-real-boring-that-even-the-teacher-has-a-ha
> rd-time-being-interested-in questions. Then we add up the points and assign
> a grade. Since that's the way the grade is determined, the student who
> choses to play the game is "forced" to learn how to take multiple choice
> tests or to learn what a particular teacher is apt to have her fill in the
> blanks, etc. Tell me how useful those 'skills' are and how they would be
> encountered IRL?

Dave et. al.,

This snippet from _Teacher Magazine_ seems apropo of this point.
It's from page 21 of their September 1996 issue and is reported by Debra
The Curse of the Valedictorian: High school valedictorians rarely turn
out to be top achievers or risk-takers in life. That's what Boston College
researcher Karen Arnold found after tracking 46 women and 35 men who were
the top of their high school classes when they graduated in 1981. By age 32, few
of the valecdictorians, Arnold found, had turned out to be outstanding in
their fields or had taken unconventional paths. "They're extremely
well-rounded and successful, personally and professionally," says Arnold,
who is an associate professor of education. "But they've never been
devoted to a single area in which they put all their passion. They obey
rules, work hard, and like learning, but they're not mold-breakers."
Forthe most part, she found, the former valedictorians chose careers in
accounting, law, medicine, engineering, and teaching. And the career
ambitions of women faded as they grew older. Midway through college,
many of the women switched their majors from a high-powered technical
filed to occupations traditionally dominated by females--even though
their grades had been high. Seven women quit their jobs
later to raise children. "They decided there are lots of ways to be
intelligent, not just through occupational success," Arnold says. She
discovered that, as college students, the valedictorians were never
sufficiently mentored on choosing and developing a career. Four never
even finished college. "Just because they could get A's doesn't mean
they can translate academic achievement into career achievement," she
says. Her findings are the subject of a new book, _Lives of Promise:
What Becomes of High School Valedictorians,_ published by Jossey-Bass

Seems in general to support the theory that simply getting good grades,
though it does indicates some good skills--working hard, liking
learning--are not very good inidcators for the more important
qualities--passion, convinction, joy, risk-taking, involvement--that seem
to be the qualities we are hinting at as indicators of what or when our
classes ro our students' writing is 'real.'

Nick Carbone, Writing Instructor
Marlboro College
Marlboro, VT 05344