Friday, May 25, 2012


“True insight began just where his intelligence ended.”
     -- E. M. Forster, Howards End

     I wonder when we will develop a way to test students’ “true insight” – or perhaps it’s just too immense and multifaceted to truly test. Perhaps it would be like making mountains go through some tests to see if they’re actually majestic, or putting rivers through a series of examinations to see whether they could be called beautiful. A student's true insight – her or his ability to break out into sudden wisdom – is as measureless as a sky full of stars.  We occasionally create complex testing situations for students, trusting that we can then calculate their intelligence, but how do we determine their facility for finding truth -- for seeing the wisdom in the words of a story, or the light that shines in the lines of a poem? We may as well try to tell how many separate breezes blew by us yesterday, or precisely how beautiful a rainbow is. Perhaps it’s possible to test what we call “intelligence”, but insight – the skill of seeing something shining where everyone else sees darkness – is as measureless as our thoughts.

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