Without Questions

In my previous post  Now You Know It , Now You Don’t I stated that knowing something doesn’t necessary lead to correct answers to the  related questions.  I believe that this is a reason why there is a discrepancy in how parents see their children and how the children are viewed through many formal tests.  Nonetheless, such statement might seem more than controversial. After all,  it is through quizzes, tests, and everyday  serious and trivial inquiries that we determine  what one knows and what one doesn’t know.

When Robert was four years old he had the first neuropsychological evaluation. During the interview I was asked if Robert knows “left” and “right”.  My thoughtless and immediate reply was “Of course not, he cannot talk yet.”  The next question clarified the first one, “Does he put a left shoes on his left foot?”  Yes, he always did.  He never  hesitated.  Even more, Robert experimented with  Ken’s shoes.  He was turning the doll up side down, and backwards  as he was removing and then placing back the shoes on Ken.  Robert was either teaching himself what right and left was or making sure that  it stayed the same, even after the position of the doll changed.

I was confronted with a radical idea that knowledge can be demonstrated without the support of language.

To make matter more complex, there are also  inconsistencies in Robert answering differently structured questions. His responses depend on how the question is worded.

“Is the lemon sweet?”

“Yes.”

“How does the lemon taste?”

“Sour.”

The questions above are not identical, but they both refer to the taste of a lemon.

Or another example:

“Does the airplane has wings?”

“No”

“Draw an airplane.”

Roberts draws an airplane – not too great but with wings.

“What are these?” I am touching wings.

“Wings”

“Does the airplane has wings?”

“No…Yes, yes, yes.”

To make matter worse, when Robert responds incorrectly once, he will keep on making the same mistakes when the questions are repeated to him in the next few minutes.  (Interspersed with others).

My conviction that Robert knows more than his score on the quiz indicates, is supported by many more examples.

Although the ability to answer questions is not entirely reliable method of checking ones’ knowledge about the environment, it is still a tool to measure the  chasm between Robert and the “typical” crowd raised on questions and tests… And that chasm can be  very deep.

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1 Comment

  1. Jean

     /  September 20, 2012

    Temple Grandin’s mother Eustacia Cutler said that specialists tests gave her husband medical permission to name his daughter “unacceptable.” There are so many types of intelligence, yet most of our testing is based on language-based trials.

    Reply

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