## Monday, October 4, 2010

### How much do you know?

When we assess students' knowledge of math, we are trying to find out if they know certain things (things that we who give the test already know ourselves).

In a math test, we are not trying to discover how much you know. We are trying to determine if you know certain facts, various fact-finding strategies, and your response to specific math challenges.

Do you see the difference?

Each of us knows SO MUCH ABOUT SO MANY THINGS that no one else can measure the breadth and depth of our knowledge.
• How could they?
• How would they know how to ask if they weren't you?
• In what order and form could the questions be asked, or answered?
• Who could possibly grade the test of YOU?
These insights came to me today as I was driving to work. Think how many things you will never be asked on a test, yet you know them immediately. Think how smart you are! What is the sum of your knowledge?

Here are some things I know. Do you know them too?

1. Who is the man in the middle? Where he is seated? When was the photo taken?

2. Is this item animal, mineral or vegetable? Where does it come from and what is it worth?

3. Where is this place? It is dangerous to visit there? Do you need a special visa?

4. Who are these people and what are they pointing at?

5. What is the answer to this:  (2 x √(2 + 2) ) ÷ 2 =

The amount of knowledge we all possess is incredible. The amount of math we know is less than incredible but more than enough for most of us. The question to ask yourself is:

Do I know enough of the right stuff to get through the challenges of daily life?

The answer is probably no for most of us. We have more than enough knowledge and skills, in some areas, and less than we need in others. If we see areas where we are lacking, we can learn the skills if we want to, or we can ask someone who knows the answer.

Here are the answers to the test I just gave you:

1. Ronald Reagan, Coronado, California in 1958.
2. It's a black truffle, which is "fruit" of a fungus, it's from Italy and worth about \$400-500. It's not quite a plant, not a mineral, and it's not an animal ...
3. It's a pile of sea salt sitting next to San Diego Bay. It's not dangerous and you don't need a visa.
4. This is a bronze relief map of the Scottish highlands. Tim, Jan and Lena are finding our campsite.
5. Two times two (square root of four equals two) equals four, divided by two equals two

Even if you couldn't answer all these questions correctly you still know plenty of stuff that I don't know! Give yourself an A on general knowledge of life!