Thursday, July 12, 2012

Career Testing for Kindergartners

Our Infallible Tests Have Identified You As A Textile Worker, So Get to Work!
For generations, Madison Avenue has marketed toys, sugary cereals and other products directly to children, through television, radio, billboards and product placement in stores at children’s eye level even though most of these products are bought by their parents. The reason why they do this is obvious to most of us: if you can get the kids excited about a product they will nag and cajole their parents, whine, argue that their friends’ parents do it, throw tantrums, and try just about everything they can come up with to get their parents to buy it.

Now the people at the ACT testing service are developing a tool that will test children as young as five to determine their career interests and academic performance, according to Good Education. The results of these tests can then be used to market career training curriculum, toys and games to young children. The results would also likely be used to direct students into certain career pathways at a much younger age than is currently done, well before they have had the experiences and education necessary to really know what all of their interests are.

Just because a child performs well in a particular subject does not mean the child necessarily wants to (or should) pursue a career in that field. Conversely, just because a child is currently performing poorly in a particular subject at the K-5 level does not mean that child cannot later develop proficiency in that subject and go on to have a successful career in it. Yet by pigeon holing children at an early age, educators run the risk of overemphasizing areas where the child already has competency at the expense of areas where the child really needs support and good teaching, thus depriving that child of a thorough, well-balanced education.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this scheme is its emphasis on careers, particularly at such a young age. Younger children tend to like school, and they like it best when it provokes their curiosity and creativity. As they get older, school and especially work often feel like tedious chores. Dumping a lot of testing, test preparation and now career training on younger children has the potential stifle their creativity and dampen their curiosity, making school seem a tedious chore much earlier.

So why is a testing service like ACT really interested in career testing at the K-5 level? It is certainly not because they care about children’s future career success. They must be aware that most people change jobs numerous times over the course of their lives and that few people can identify the career of their dreams even by the time they’ve declared their undergraduate major, let alone in elementary school. Likewise, they have certainly heard the current mantra that we’re preparing students today for jobs that have not yet been invented. So how is it possible to identify kindergartners’ career aptitudes and interests for these jobs?

Of course ACT is in the business of selling tests. The more tests they can sell, the more money they can earn. Thus by creating tests for K-5 students that were previously only given to high school students, ACT vastly increases it profitability.

Preparing elementary school students now for a future career that may or may not happen has the added bonus of conditioning them at an early age to accept a future of drudgery, rules and obsequiousness, thus making them more saleable as future employees and less likely to resist inequality and injustice. Then again, this has always been the primary function of public education. ACT has merely come up with a new way to profit from it before kids have graduated from high school.

Perhaps the unions should consider marketing labor history and pro-union curriculum to elementary schools, too.

No comments:

Post a Comment