- a grey shorthaired dog
- a grey shorthaired cat
- a tan or yellowish shorthaired cat
- a calico longhaired cat
When asked which one doesn't belong with the others, he points to the calico cat.
Well, he got it marked wrong on the test, obviously.
- He is more interested in cats right now than dogs, and this particular calico was a remarkably fine specimen of cat-ness; AND
- He sees a longhaired vari-colored creature and opposes it to the other short-haired single-colored creatures. Visually the calico cat stood apart from the others, and that was just a plain fact.
This is what led my husband to remark, "These IQ tests usually only demonstrate that the people who devise the tests aren't very smart."
And the kids that do well on these have learned to choose what they know the adults want. This IS a skill, and it even shows some intellectual ability (the ability to abstract enough to understand what someone else is trying to communicate; I was very good at this and therefore have always been a good test-taker) but this is NOT the intellectual skill the test purports to measure.
Another test involved cartoon fish.
- This is Ko.
- This is Neef.
- (Turn the page to a bunch of fish).
- Which one is Ko?
- Which one is Neef?
When we got to the sea-plant called something like Tweekle-plee (honestly, I'm not making this up) Aidan was lost, and so was I, and the school psychologist was too. She apologized for the silliness of the test. I said, "It's OK, I think Aidan is enjoying this." Well, he didn't mind it, but he also didn't really see what it was in aid of, and indeed that was quite a sane reaction.
Again, there is a skill that the test purports to measure (probably something to do with how many random pieces of information you can fit in your short-term memory) and then there is the skill it really measures, which would be something like "the ability to bear patiently and even try to understand something that is pure nonsense."
The child who coined the phrase "I LIKE your guts, Paddy!" and paraphrases the Scarlet Pimpernel when he's trying to run away from me putting his AFO brace on "They chase him here, they chase him there...." is just way above Neef and Tweekle-plee and Co. (excuse me, KO).
Twaddle to me isn't so much what kids like when they have a choice (Aidan loves Pokemon and if the fish test had been about Pokemon, he would have aced it) but what adults impose on kids.
Charlotte Mason gives the telling example of the kindergarten teacher telling the school-children to pretend they are trees, and wave their arms like little branches. But left to themselves, children will play at being Ulysses, or Robinson Crusoe (or nowadays, perhaps Jedi Knights).
Aidan wants to take pictures (self-portrait on the left there, and a picture he took of his little brother above). He wants to roll and bake cookies. He wants to help me build shelves, and help his dad program games. In a nutshell, he wants to learn to be a competent adult, and every day is an apprenticeship for him in that.
There is nothing wrong with logic puzzles. The one above is silly, obviously, but there are fun real ones that my kids like to play.... for fun.
But using them to measure the human potential of a child? That reminds me of what Alison McKee once wrote in an issue of Growing Without Schooling -- about how she was having fun taking one of those standardized tests at school -- solving the thinking puzzles, filling in the little bubbles -- and then suddenly looking around and realizing, "this is a TEST. They didn't make this for people to have fun doing it, but as a MEASUREMENT." Suddenly it wasn't as fun anymore.