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Marissa Patterson's picture

Yes, but...

Yes, test taking is an important skill, but only because that is how people today are forced to learn in school. I went 8 years in school never taking a test (ok, I lied, we had spelling tests sometimes) and I learned so much, by reading and exploring and creating. I was able to learn for myself, without a test staring me in the face. I have definitely noticed, especially in college science courses, that I learn material for the test and then promptly forget quite a lot of it. And yet I still remember dates and very specific information from a yearlong 5th grade exploration of history from prehistory until 1990. I honestly believe that this difference comes from what the focus and reasoning is for the learning.

Yes, some of my classes have been more discussion based, or paper based, but so many of them have been "learn this material for the multiple choice test." I would argue that test taking is NOT a necessary skill, because it does not teach you anything except how to memorize certain concepts and regurgitate them. But writing a paper forces you to analyze and comprehend what you have learned and decide what it is you believe about a topic, and then present it in a clear manner.

Furthermore, I am fascinated by the comment Jessica makes about how physicians don't need to know various schools or thought or automechanics learning poetry. Isn't that why we are all at liberal arts schools? I could have gone somewhere and majored in pre-med and filled my courseload with anatomy and biology and chemistry and never leave the science building. Instead, I am at a liberal arts school where I have had the chance to take a wide variety of courses and develop an interest (and a minor) in anthropology. I've taken quite a few public health courses and am now thinking of going into that field, and some of my reasoning has to do with the connections I see through public health in anthropology and medicine. If I had simply focused on my planned career goal, I would never have had the chance to develop this different way of looking at the world, even if technically a doctor does not "need" anthropology to perform.

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