Standardized Testing according to The Little Prince

I don’t know if our friend Antoine had testing in mind when he wrote Chapter 4 of Le Petit Prince / The Little Prince, but he could have. I’ll simply quote part of that chapter, with a rough English translation, as food for thought on standardized testing:

Le Petit Prince coverLes grandes personnes aiment les chiffres. Quand vous leur parlez d’un nouvel ami, elles ne vous questionnent jamais sur l’essentiel. Elles ne vous disent jamais: “Quel est le son de sa voix? Quels sont les jeux qu’il préfère? Est-ce qu’il collectionne les papillons?” Elles vous demandent: “Quel âge a-t-il? Combien a-t-il de frères? Combien pèse-t-il? Combien gagne son père?” Alors seulement elles croient le connaître. Si vous dites aux grandes personnes: “J’ai vu une belle maison en briques roses, avec des géraniums aux fenêtres et des colombes sur le toit…” elles ne parviennent pas à s’imaginer cette maison. Il faut leur dire: “J’ai vu une maison de cent mille francs.” Alors elles s’écrient: “Comme c’est joli!”

Grownups love figures. When you talk to them about a new friend, they never ask about what is essential. They never say, “What is the sound of his voice? What are his favorite games? Does he collect butterflies?” They ask you, “How old is he? How many siblings does he have? How much does he weigh? How much does his father make?” This is the only way they think they can know him. If you say to grownups, “I saw a pretty house of pink bricks, with geraniums in the windows and doves on the roof,” they won’t be able to picture the house. You need to say to them, “I saw a house worth 100,000 francs.” Then they exclaim, “How lovely!”

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