Life is a Test
There are some things we can rely on in life. Benjamin Franklin said the onl things that are certain are death and taxes. Einstein said he was sure about the speed of light, and the vastness of human stupidity. And he wasn’t even sure about the speed of light! Death, taxes, stupidity, the speed of light, and pull of gravity; all of these things are constants we can count on. Today I mention one more. Every year, without fail, you will hear complaints of standardized testing in schools.
Parents don’t like tests. Teachers don’t like tests. Students certainly don’t like tests. The only people on board with standardized testing are administrators, and even that seems like a half-hearted commitment.
So why do we have standardized tests in the first place? If no one likes them, why can’t we just get rid of them?
I say we keep the tests. Not to please politicians or track progress on state standards. Not to annoy the students and help test creators feel powerful. We should keep the tests because they themselves teach a valuable lesson. All of life is a test. Most of it will seem arbitrary and unfair, so you might as well get used to it when you are young.
Most people don’t know they are being tested, so they fall into the most perilous trap on Earth: The trap of the unseen examination.
Plenty of people do realize they are being tested. Waking up is a test of will. Driving to work is a test of traffic laws. Selecting food at lunch is a test, not only of nutrition, but also a social test. Make sure to pick something to eat that won’t make other people think you’re weird. While you’re at it, put on some clothes and we will test how cool you are. Every conversation is a test of social skills.
The world is the bane of the teacher’s pet. With all of these tests, it is impossible to pass them all. Woe to the person who tries. The true students among us know sometimes you have to fail one test in order to pass another. You can’t win the quiet game and win the spelling bee at the same time. You can’t be a simple man and be a world leader. You can do one, but you can’t do both.
When you are aware of the tests in front of you, you can do a good job on them. You should do a good job. Or, at least the best you can. Try to keep the average up. If not for yourself, then for everyone else. Nobody wants to be that kid who holds up the rest of the class. And yet many of us are. What’s their problem?
But performing well and actually wanting to perform well are different things. I have always been good at tests. I like tests, and will often seek them out. But I hate being tested. Just because I do well doesn’t mean I like having to perform.
There is an assumption that kids who are good at school must automatically like it. Just as those who are good at life are perceived as having everything come easy to them. But they are tested all the time, just like the rest of us. The A student doesn’t really like being tested any more than the F student.
But we must all still be tested. Testing is a part of life. Enlightenment, nirvana, friendliness, good citizenship, courage, and many more traits are just like a K-12 education. They are easy to attain, as long as you show up to class. But you’re gonna have to prove you know this stuff somehow.