Staring out my office window today I started thinking about how we can know whether or not a student is learning.
Learning is very similar to the wind if you are experiencing it you can feel its effect but if you are removed from it like, say, a teacher, it is an invisible force acting on the landscape that you can only glimpse through a window.
As teachers we look for the clues that suggest the wind is blowing; a student asking questions or explaining a concept to another student. Even test results are the trees and leaves in the wind. This is where the metaphor starts to be incredibly important. In the same way the wind is not caused by the movement of the trees, exams do not cause learning to take place. Correlation doesn’t mean causation.
It is also important to remember that just because the trees are moving, it does not necessarily mean it is windy. While it is the most probable answer, another possibility is that someone is shaking the tree.
I am convinced that standardized tests encourage students to go out and kick the trees because that is what the test givers are looking for.
Food for thought.