In ancient Greece, Socrates tested his students through conversations. Answers were not scored as right or wrong. They just led to more dialogue. Many intellectual elites in the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. cared more about finding the path to higher knowledge than producing a correct response. To them, accuracy was for shopkeepers.
Today, educators often hold up the Socratic method as the best kind of teaching.
So how did we go from that ideal to an educational model shaped -- and perhaps even ruled -- by standardized, normed, charted, graphed, regressed, calibrated and validated testing?
In today's classroom, a student would be hard pressed to go an entire year without writing a test, and a teacher would be hard pressed to find a curriculum that cares less about right answers and more about the pursuit of dialogue.
And yet, the Socratic method lends itself very well to the idea that we never need tests or grades to gather and report on student learning.
Reflecting upon one's beliefs can be a very productive use of time, and I can think of no better time to do so than when we have come to mindlessly accept something as a given truth. When questions are no longer answered because questions are no longer being asked - it is time to rethink what we are doing.
It's time to rethink the culture of education and reaquaint ourselves with the Socratic method.