Mensch tracht, un Gott lacht

Monday, March 20, 2023

The First Time They Dropped the (Old) Standardized Test Requirement


“I say that the old style of written examination on the meaning of the classics should be restored, so that a proper answer is put forth by writing out the early and later commentaries and those in official state records. After listing one by one what is said by the various early and later commentators, the candidate should conclude with his own opinion—there being no necessity for blind acceptance of one authority’s word. Through the first part, those who are ignorant will be failed; and through the second part, those who show themselves dull [or servile] in reasoning [will be failed]. This is the way to correct superficiality [which is what is measured by the current examination process]. 

“Some may say that the suggested style for written examinations [emphasizing classical commentators] was considered of lesser consequence in the later classical period because its criterion was seen as [mere] skill in memorization. Could we now, they might say, esteem what the examiners in that [enlightened] period looked down upon? In reply to this, I ask if anyone writes today’s examinations answers without memorizing other examination essays [and model answers]? It is a question of memorizing in either case, and obviously, it is better to memorize the learned ideas of the classical commentators, than the second hand drivel of today[’s] [model examinations and model answers]. . . . [A]t least [under the old examination system], one had to reason carefully and write . . . [well]. It was nothing like the present examination essays, which can be written by any ignorant person.” 

Huang Tsung-hsi, Waiting for the Dawn: A Plan for the Prince (Wm. Theodore de Bary trans., New York, Columbia University Press 1993) (1663).

Seth Barrett Tillman, The First Time They Dropped the (Old) Standardized Test Requirement,  New Reform Club (Mar. 20, 2023, 7:50 AM), <>; 

see also Seth Barrett Tillman, ‘1663 and 1789,’ New Reform Club (Mar. 10, 2023, 7:34 AM), <>;

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