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Testing the Cupcake Dog

In preparing for the school year I’ve been approaching my planning from a different standpoint. In the same vein as this blog, the aim has been to be as transparent as possible in terms of the learning process. One inevitable reality of the learning process in public schools is assessment which often takes the form of tests. During this preparation an interesting meme that came at me sideways was Stains the Cupcake dog.

This clip from “It’s Me or the Dog” has started to take on a small life beyond the show. It could be the production values, or the disconcerting amount of focus by the dog, but in any event it’s amusing and thought-provoking.

While preparing for the school year I’ve been embedding multiple assessments of different natures, all with the goal of improving student achievement. Within this goal is the focus and assumption of education being something more than mere operant conditioning. Too many students consume information, retain it until the test, and then promptly forget said information to ready the mental space for new information presumably for the next test. In this way the learning of Stains the Cupcake dog is a cautionary tale. If all we assess is the memory of wrote facts we are racing not to the top but toward obsolescence. Learning requires a basic knowledge of facts but that knowledge is not the sum total of learning. Though it may be easy to manage I do not want a classroom full of cupcake dogs.
What’s the answer then? I’m not entirely sure, but I want to bring my students into the process of the learning that they take part in. A first step is giving them power to choose, let them peek behind education’s curtain, to have opportunities Stains did not. If we do not teach students how we create lessons and curate learning how can we then expect them to learn on their own? The interesting thing is that we know what to do. The talk below is something that I am going to share with my students. Because I want learners, not cupcake dogs.
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