Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Really Important School Stuff

As part of a school assignment in my son's grade ten class, he is to determine what he thinks is his personal Colour. It's some sort of personality test or something. I took an 'official' version of such a test when I was on the School Council of my son's former school. I can't imagine what useful purpose that served, but all of us on the Council took the test. I was, I think, Green and Orange. Only one other person had Green in her test. I liked her. What did it all mean? I can't remember. Nothing terribly important, surely. Just another way to waste taxpayer's money.

Anyway, my son didn't actually take the test, he is just to guess what Colour he thinks he is, based on attributes and characteristics culled from a list. He thinks he is Green and Orange. No, I didn't tell him what I thought he might be. My wife, based on the list he showed her, thinks he is Blue.

I didn't even look at the list. I think he is, or will be, whatever he wants to be.

What puzzles me is why valuable class time is spent on this crap. I think rather than trying to figure out what type or personality someone has, it would make more sense to establish ways to motivate the kids and make them perform in the classroom, not find excuses why they are the way they are. We like to be able to say: "Oh, my son can't help being a putz. He's a (pick your colour) and is better suited to (pick something that he might actually be good at) than to (pick whatever he sucks at.)" Pigeonholing us all is yet another way of excusing us from performing to higher standards and rationalizing away our sloth and indifference.

I really don't care what colour we all are. I only care that we behave rationally, consistently, always do our best, and adhere to high ethical standards. That's not too much to ask, is it?


  1. Come to think of it, that's almost as droll as most of the mind-numbing dreck the public schools I attended would try to shove in a days' work.
    It wasn't so bad, until about the time I hit the fifth grade. The focus of study didn't include reading, writing or math unless there was some way it could be worked into a theme of slavery in the old south, which seemed like an odd one to pick for the bicentennial (1976)...Unless you're a leftist socialist with an agenda to advance!
    Looking back, I see Jimmy ("Do-nothing") Carter got into the White House predominantly on the "Ah gatz mah rights" vote, so there were asses to kiss.
    In later grades, there were still subjects of substance, but intersperced intermittently with the latest touchy-feely topic: Environ-mental-illness, how the world's poor are America's fault, independence-bad;collectivism-good &c.
    It's not til you draw your first free breath and have to take care of you the lack of reality in one's training becomes evident. You start finding there's so much to re-learn and so little time to get on with it!

  2. Yeah, the big thing now is global warming and the environment, each woven into every topic possible, whether or not it makes any sense. In the meantime, the little darlings can't read or write or perform simple arithmetic. I have always said, and it was as true when I went to school as it is today, that the bright kids succeed in spite of their education and the rest of the kids are simply screwed. No amount of dumbing down the curriculum and feel-good psychological babble will help them.

  3. This sort of thing can also be found in the business world. Some companies want potential employees to do a personality test as part of their interview process.

    I think this is due to a lack of ability (and probably confidence) in making judgements and decisions. Instead of thinking for oneself, they feel the need to rate someone based on some numbers or calculation. It also helps with the "blame game". If the employee doesn't work out, they say "The personality test said they'd be great".

  4. Labeling... another attempt to control. Big business, organized religion, government. Bah!

  5. um, I think my colour would be plaid.

  6. trooper touched on something I've noticed as well:
    As big business gets more in bed with government, touchy-feely crap like "personality tests" become more the norm.
    These are nothing more than ways to disguise political favoritism!
    The latest thing is that you don't get ahead if you're deemed to be "lacking people skills", which translates to "you're not related to anyone in administrative and don't kiss ass enough, so swallow what we give you and don't make too much noise about it."

  7. Trooper: I think you have it right about the workplace. There is every tendency to ameliorate risk and these programs supposedly help pick the right candidate.

    Jean: Yeah, labeling. The only labeling I want to hear about myself is -- handsome, charming, witty, etc. Ha. I suspect curmudgeonly and delusional might be more like it.

    phlegmfatale: Plaid. Love it. It makes the point that none of us fits any particular mold but are instead a mixture or combination of many good (and perhaps a few not so good) features.

    Galt: We have a lot more of this meddling to look forward to as the line between the government and what is left of the 'private sector' blurs.

  8. Here comes a generalization. Sorry. School board members and their "assistants" here in the States, spend a fair amount of time thinking up crap like this (prolly misreading an article from a noted psychologist) so they can prove to the electorate that they are doing job looking into our kids well-being. It sounds like Canadian school boards think it's a good political ploy, too.
    I seem to remember the only generalized test we took in High School was the standard Stanford-Binet.
    How times change when George Orwell's predictions begin to come true. Sigh.
    I wonder, when the teachers fail with students, they can just say "Oh, her. What else could you expect from magenta?"

  9. That's pretty much the way it works, Catmoves. Pretty sorry stuff, if you ask me. I wrote more on this topic some years ago, in an open letter to my son, Zachary. It can be found here: http://www.pedde.net/Zach18.html

  10. Don't get me started on public or private education. Enough to say that we homeschool.

    In order to get a "student discount" in our car insurance, we had to send it a report card showing 3.0 average for our senior. Since we also have two in college, they need to have a copy of their transcripts showing they also have a 3.0 average. When I handed in the paper work, the lady looked at me in disbelief. She told me, "You must be very proud." I'm always proud, but it didn't dawn on me what she was talking about. All of my Fair Maidens are straight 'A' students. She proceed to tell she had never done a student discount for a family whose children all qualified. She's been working in that office for over 15 years.

    I think that schools are watering down education. If you raise the bar, children will rise up to the challenge. If you lower it, well you get what we are getting now. It's very sad.

    There are WONDERFUL teachers out there who are doing a phenomenal job. The parents are the ones that are dropping the ball. :o(

  11. We are lucky in that our son has been able to go to schools that are pretty good, as far as public schools go. And the politically correct stuff isn't as insane here in Canada as it appears to be in the U.S. The irony is that my wife is a teacher in the public school system and she has to deal with the lax standards of both academic expectations and student behaviour in the system. It all reflects back on the parents, just as you say.

  12. "The opposite of courage in our day and time is not so much cowardice as conformity." - Ayn Rand
    Bureaucrats - which would include public school faculty - quickly learn the three directives of socialist work:
    1. You don't so much have to work, as look good.
    2. Make everybody feel good, especially your higher-ups - even if you waste so much time on this you don't do anything else.
    3. You are NEVER incompetent, it's just that you "don't know" how the job got screwed up.

  13. As much as I detested school back when, I am now so grateful that I did so back then, before it deteriorated.

    So how many colours do they offer? As many as a dozen? Is this like trying to cram everyone on the planet into twelve slots in a daily horoscope? I love teal and hunter green but detest institutional green, a black rose or soft raspberry cream but not pink. This test seems like a very limited means to assess personality.

  14. Galt: You sound as if you have much experience with bureaucrats. Me too. My opinion of them, as yours must, gets worse with every new experience.

    Lin: I don't recall much of the whole colour testing experience. I don't think there were as many as twelve colours, probably only half that or so. Nuances that could not be identified with any one colour might then be attributed to a mix of two colours, as was my case.

    My opinion of all this? These are all attempts not to explain anything, but more so to 'explain away' failure and incompetence.