“Will This Be On The Test?”

from Medium

There, in six words, is one of the worst questions any educator can hear.

It lays bare, in a simple question, the motivations, the structures and the flaws of the traditional educational paradigm. The test is a stick, the grade (and the degree) are the carrot, and compliance is the process.

More here.

Posted in Education, Ideas and tagged , .


  1. There is a big difference between simply being enrolled in a course and being engaged in a course. To be completely honest, I have taken courses throughout high school and college where I was only there because I had to be; the material was uninteresting and I coasted through doing just enough to get a good grade so that I wouldn’t have to think about it ever again. Besides being a symptom of my own apathy and laziness, it is also a symptom of a problem in education – traditional courses are factories that all run just about the same way to get everyone to do well on a certain test, to push them through to the next part of the academic assembly line. Compulsory education is great in that it gets as many children in a classroom to learn useful skills and build their knowledge bases in (granted, mostly arbitrary) subjects and send them off to the next chapter of their life. But are we putting too much focus on a grade on a paper? Is this focus causing a complete lack of attention to real learning? It seems as though students are only in class to learn what will be on the test, rather than really cogitate and reflect on the subject matter they are learning. Are we not getting through to kids about the importance of learning, or are we ourselves putting too much emphasis on the evaluation and not enough on the process? The online course that the article mentioned where thousands of people signed up for the class but 99% dropped out is indicative of many problems, but the author nailed the main one on the head in that online learning can be flakey and impersonal. The term “drive-by” is really clever and fits this situation quite accurately. In the internet age, it is too easy to get an idea and run with it only to drop it the moment things become even slightly laborious. The motivation behind these tasks are important – is the motivation behind these courses to truly learn or is it to get a certificate?
    In the context of universities, a college degree today means nothing close to what it did only a few decades ago. We now have half of recent college graduates either underemployed or jobless, according to a study by the Associated Press. Some of this can probably be explained by college students’ sometimes ridiculous choices for a major, but at the end of the day, everyone in college right now has probably been told at one point that having a college degree was the key to a good job. This is clearly no longer true, as experience has taken the coveted spot as the most important asset to a young professional. So if college students are simply “driving by” through courses to receive a (very expensive) piece of paper, what does this mean for their educational development? They are not learning, and they are not getting a good value.
    With the state of the world changing so rapidly, it is time for new and radical proposals for change in the education industry. And at the end of the day, students need to take their education into their own hands. If they truly want to learn, they need to put in their own work, and not just for “what will be on the test”.


  2. Seth Godin did an excellent job with this written piece. I didn’t know where the article was originally going, but by the time I finished everything came together and made sense. The article is absolutely correct about how education is given out and perceived by college students. We just go to school, take exams, and then graduate for a piece of paper. Meanwhile, we aren’t absorbing any of this information, or gaining experience for our field of interest.
    I will be the first to admit that I have asked the question of, “Will this be on the test?”. The college student shouldn’t be blamed for that though. Our minds are instilled that it’s live by the exam or die by the exam. They hold the most power of all our college lives, because if we don’t pass, then we can’t move on and graduate. I believe Godin understands that, and that’s why he created a new approach of hands on education through his online courses with his altMBA. Professors must make their courses hands on with experience, or students will do the bare minimum and just focus on the tests and not material. Especially when it comes to online courses, most student will only care about what’s on the test and won’t feel the need to do more since it’s online.
    In summary, I believe Seth Godard’s idea of having courses/online courses be hands on and full of participation and experience is an prominent idea and a shift in education. Other professors should adapt or look how to make their courses like the altMBA. In today’s society, college kids are doing the bare minimum just to get by. We aren’t gaining the full proper knowledge but with a much needed change in courses, programs such as the altMBA will change all of that.

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