The Medical Metaphor: Gross Anatomy and Third Graders
Why do we treat third graders like medical students?
As much as they wished it were so, the final written and practical exam for Medical Gross and Developmental Anatomy was not the last time the class would be called upon to summon their expertise on the anatomical compendium. The denouement would take place two weeks later with the shelf examination administered by the National Board of Medical Examiners. The test would not only determine how NJMS (New Jersey Medical School) students fared when compared with students across the country but also serve as a barometer for the program that had taught them. . . .The chance of getting ambushed by esoteric inquiries was greatly diminished by the course's primary textbook, Snell's Clinical Anatomy for Medical Students, which helpfully tendered sample shelf exam questions at the conclusion of every chapter.
The only difference is that with many standardized tests whose questions remain secret, third graders often get ambushed by esoteric inquiries. If you doubt this, read Children and Reading Tests by Clifford Hill and Eric Larsen (Ablex 2000). Using the methods of discourse analysis, the authors examine not only representative material from reading tests--actual passages and questions--but also children's responses to it. The book is particularly attentive to the role of culture in shaping children's understanding of what they read. You cannot read this and not be changed. Even if you already think these standardized tests are an unfair measure, this book shows they are worse than you think they are.
Body of Knowledge: One Semester of Gross Anatomy, the Gateway to Becoming a Doctor,
Steve Giegerich (Scribner, 2001)
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