Education is a life-long process. At each stage of human development, we continue to learn new and fascinating things about ourselves, other people, and the world around us. From childhood to adulthood, we acquire knowledge that helps us grow and mature as individuals. However, if education is a life-long process, then unfortunately, assessment is also.
For this reason, I have devoted myself to helping other teachers design discussion and test questions that will measure the reasoning capabilities, creativity, and maturity levels of individuals at four distinct stages:
The basic, intermediate, and advanced levels are for those students who are still in school. Students at the "basic" level are the youngest learners, usually from the ages of 7 to 14. For these students, it is necessary to keep the questions interesting and fun.
Students at the "intermediate" and "advanced" levels include learners from the ages of 14 to 22. These students often have a wide range of abilities; therefore, it is important to ask them serious questions that require them to consider deeper philosophical, social, and moral issues. For these three levels, it is essential to include specific "commands" with each question so that students know exactly what you want them to do. (Specific "commands" include words like discuss, debate, describe, consider, examine, explore, experiment, brainstorm, ponder, and so on.)
The "professional" level involves mostly reading selections and multiple choice questions that are designed to measure common sense reasoning abilities. These questions seek to test how adults will react to regular, everyday scenarios.
It is my sincerest hope that the following test questions will serve as a most excellent example for teachers seeking a more accurate means of assessment to measure the growth of their students.
1. What does blue smell like?
2. If you were going to get eaten by an animal, which animal would you want to get
eaten by? Explain.
3. How hot do you think Hell really is? Get together in groups and discuss.
4. Where do babies come from? Brainstorm ideas and draw a concept map. (Or, to make it more personal: "At one point in time, your mom gave your dad a special look while they getting drunk in a tavern together…and now you're here. Explain everything that happened in between.")
INTERMEDIATE (Middle School)
1. What is your opinion of breast implants? Form two teams and hold a debate.
2. Adults keep telling you that cigarettes are bad for you, but how do you really know this is true if you haven't tried one? Have you considered the possibility that adults are lying to you because they don't want you to be happy? …Ponder.
3. Many of your teachers (myself included) drink excessively when they are not at work.
Consider, examine, and explain the reasons why this is your fault.
ADVANCED (High School and College)
1. Some people say that everything exists within a "yin-and-yang" type of balance. If this is true, then good and evil cannot exist without each other. If good is the opposite of evil…then good cannot exist without evil because the concept of good (by definition) depends on the existence of its opposite, which is evil.
So quite logically, good cannot "continue" to exist unless people "continue" to do evil things. So, if good cannot exist without evil…then is it really wrong to do evil things? Discuss this idea and experiment on each other.
2. Scientists predict that millions of years from now, the sun will eventually run out of energy and collapse inward. But before this happens, it will expand outward and burn up all of the planets closest to it, including the Earth. If this process happens slowly, increasing heat from the sun will dry up the Earth. All water will evaporate, and the human race will die a slow, painful, agonizing, and scorching death as everyone begs for water but can't find any.
On the other hand…if this process happens quickly, people will not have enough time to utter horrible screams of madness and insanity before massive loads of heat and radiation penetrate the Earth's crust and blast away all forms of life in a relentless and terrifying manner.
Given that the human race, with all of its civilizations and accomplishments, will eventually face one of these two scenarios…does it really matter if you pass this class?
1A. (FOR MEN) You are in the middle of having dinner with your girlfriend when you suddenly realize that she has been talking about something important. Much to your own alarm, you also realize that she has been talking about it since the beginning of dinner…which is precisely when your attention span decided to pack its bags and go on a small vacation.
You also begin to notice that she has a very intense and serious look on her face and that everything she is saying is loaded with meaning and importance. You can tell that she is really concerned about the matter at hand because she is investing all of her energy and mental focus into every single word. Then it happens…she stops talking. You begin to panic because you know exactly what this silence means. She wants to know what your thoughts are about everything she's been saying to you for the past 30 minutes.
What do you say to her?
- "Yeah, I totally know what you mean. I support you all the way, honey."
- "Wow, isn't that something? Who would've thought?"
- "Umm…yes. I agree, but I think we need to take a few steps back and consider some of the things you said earlier."
- Nothing. It's over. She already knows you haven't been paying attention. She will get her revenge on you at a very inconvenient time in the near future…and part of this revenge will probably involve her cheating on you with someone who has a better attention span.
1B. (FOR WOMEN) Your husband keeps late office hours, and he has been working overtime every single night…for the past four years. He's hardly ever around. When he is around, he keeps talking about his secretary, Pamela. What do you do?
- Keep convincing yourself that everything is okay. You are just being paranoid. Your husband is a very busy man.
- Be cautious. Find a way to confirm whether or not your suspicions are true. If they are, then consider getting a divorce.
- Try to repair the relationship. Set aside a special time where you can both talk to each other openly and honestly….and maybe even begin marriage counseling.
- Videotape yourself having wild, passionate sex with three other women. Have the camera person zoom in while you are blissfully engaged in orgasmic scissoring action with one of the other girls. Make your husband watch the entire videotape… and then kill him with an ice pick.
2. Read the two passages below very carefully. After reading them, answer the questions that follow using the best of your logic and reasoning abilities.
Everyone at work has been noticing that something is wrong with Jack. He just hasn't been himself lately. Jack is usually a very positive individual who loves talking to people, but this week he has been avoiding conversations. People want to comfort him, but nobody knows what to say. A few co-workers know that he has been in a very serious relationship for the past few years, but they don't know any specific details. Jack was seen reading a letter one day in his cubicle. He looked incredibly sad while reading the letter, and he put his head on his hands for a very long time before putting the letter away. While he was driving home, numerous love songs were playing on the radio. None of these love songs seemed to bother him, but when the band Starship came on the radio with their 1985 hit song, "Sara," Jack began weeping uncontrollably.
Based on the evidence given in this passage, sufficient reasoning would lead a person to conclude that Jack recently had a painful break-up with his girlfriend and that his girlfriend's name is:
As Jack was weeping uncontrollably, his soul drenched in horrible sadness and pain, he began to think that things couldn't possibly get any worse. As he was having this thought, the unrelenting waterfall of his own tears blurred his vision and caused him to drive straight into a truck full of dildos. Both vehicles exploded on impact. As burning dildos lay strewn across the street, one of the nearby power lines collapsed, creating a deadly electrical fire that spread rapidly to all of the nearby buildings. The fire eventually reached the local zoo and burned down the main control center. This caused all the electronically-controlled gates and cages to open up, releasing a bunch of frustrated, belligerent, and highly dangerous zoo animals upon the local citizenry.
You have been calmly observing the entire scene because you are sitting at a local cafe which has somehow remained safe. Exotic bats are flying around everywhere; monkeys are screaming and throwing feces at each other; poisonous South American tarantulas are biting women and small children; the escaped rhinoceros has decided to ruthlessly impale everyone who comes across its path; and Main Street is littered with burning rubber dildos.
After laughing quite a bit, you decide to:
- Call the police and fire departments.
- Rush in and try to help as many people as you can.
- Relax and finish your coffee.
- Take out your cigarette lighter and start a few fires of your own. You are well-educated, and you're already well aware that millions of years from now, the Sun will run out of energy and expand outward before shrinking, which will burn up the entire Earth anyway. Why delay the inevitable?