Anti-Intellectualism and Standardized Testing

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A population in which does not think original thought is easiest to control. The government and thus, America’s education system is set up to subconsciously discourage the population from producing its own ideas. As a society that keeps higher-education in such high esteem, why don’t our government leaders want the populous to contribute to the world of complex thinkers? Standardized testing is a mechanism by which the government measures our knowledge and determines how much money our public schools and educators receive, it is also the greatest contributor to anti-intellectualism in our educational system.

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I will explore decades of research as well as my own past experiences to determine why standardized testing is still in existence even though years of research has found that it has little to no positive effect on students and faculty. Standardized testing contributes to anti-intellectualism by limiting student knowledge and free thinking in order to do well on a test that does not contribute to expanding their knowledge and learning. Richard Hofstadter was a professor at Columbia University, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and is one of the most revered American historians of the twentieth century.

Hofstadter believed that anti-intellectualism was being promoted in higher-education and in the workplace. Deeply rooted in the government is a desire to keep people from thinking of their own ideas. Hofstadter’s ideas are completely logical; anyone who takes a deeper look into how the government and subsequently, the education system, is run can see that there are many mechanisms by which they do this. Coincidentally, only those who think like intellectuals are able to notice what is happening. When discussing anti-intellectualism, you must first understand what an intellectual is. Hofstadter gives no clear definition of what anti-intellectualism is, but Hofstadter writes what he believes an intellectual is Certainly the intellectual, if he is nothing else, is one who relishes the play of the mind for its own sake, for whom it is one of the major ends of life, (Hofstadter 259). In the above quotation, Hofstadter explains what he thinks is the most defining characteristic of what an intellectual is. An intellectual, Hofstadter says, even after accomplishing what most people would find totally satisfying, yearns for more. It does not necessarily have to be material, it can be knowledge or understanding. Being able to grasp Hofstadter’s idea of anti-intellectualism, is a stepping stone to understanding the negative effect of standardized testing on students’ learning. To understand why modern standardized testing is dysfunctional, we must first discuss the origins of standardized tests and their functions.

The first standardized tests were taken in ancient China. The tests were used to measure the knowledge of a citizen to determine if they were smart enough to become a civil servant. Because ancient China was one of the only societies that a serf could move up the hierarchy,

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