Robert Kirby: The right answer about student testing — it never ends

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Robert Kirby

Three weeks ago, my 5-year-old granddaughter entered the public school system and was subjected to what I consider a dehumanizing examination.

She was tested.

You heard me, tested. Like she was some kind of bug or lab rat. It brought back memories of my own scholastic evaluations.

Ada’s mother took her to elementary school and introduced her to her kindergarten teacher, Mrs. R.

After 10 minutes of questions, Mrs. R said, “You’ve got a smart one there.”

Smart one? A lot school officials know. My granddaughter is a genius. A failure to recognize her brilliance is just another example of the fallacy of scholastic testing.

My own introduction to formative education came when my parents dragged me to school, where I met my kindergarten teacher, who I immediately suspected was Hitler disguised in a flowered smock and going by the name of Mrs. M. We weren’t that far out from World War II, you know.

Anyway, Mrs. M made me count to a hundred, reel off the alphabet, and read a sentence about a stupid cat.

Finished, I sat on a chair and kicked my feet while they discussed me as if I couldn’t possibly grasp what was going on. As per prior agreement, the Old Man let Mom do most of the talking.

Mom • “You can tie him up if you need to.”

Mrs. M • “Oh, I would never … ”

Mom • “And don’t let him have anything sharp.”

Mrs. M • “Well, we…”

Old Man • “She’s not kidding. He could kill you with a crayon.”

Mrs. M concluded the evaluation by welcoming me to her class, saying that we would learn a lot of important things. She was smiling, but the glint in her rheumy eye was one I would become familiar with over the years of public schooling.

We did learn a lot of things — although none of it of any real interest to me. My favorite subject was reading, but even that was confined to stories about a group of moronic kids named Dick, Jane and Sally, and their equally dimwitted pets — a dog named Spot and a cat named Puff.

A teacher once made me sit in a chair for defacing a book. I don’t know whether it was because I was drawing in the book or because of what I drew — arrows sticking out of Puff, Dick and Spot — that bothered her the most.

Mom came and got me. The principal tried to downplay the matter by showing how the arrows could be erased.

Him • “I think Bobby here just has an overactive imagination.”

Mom • “So does Satan.”

Mom took me home and tried to explain the difference between behavior at home and out in public. Didn’t work. School and I became mortal enemies, or rather the people who ran them and me.

No matter my test results — ranging from “special ed” to “advanced curriculum” — they never grasped that they should have been testing themselves. Reduce the boredom factor and my interest would rise accordingly.

Eventually, medication was invented that helped me focus better during times devoid of any legitimate interest.

Little did I know that the testing process would continue throughout my life — the Army, job evaluations, credit scores and other things that measure behavior rather than intelligence.

Later, when marriage was added to the curriculum, it became increasingly imperative that I test well.

Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.