Sunday, November 9, 2014

"Interstellar's" message on Standardized Testing

If you saw "Interstellar," you may have noticed an interesting exchange regarding standardized testing. In the film, Matthew McConaughey plays Cooper, the father of two kids in a what seems to be a midwestern farming community on a slowly dying earth. Disease is killing off most food sources, and corn may soon be the world's only food source. The earth is rapidly becoming a giant dust bowl, and in what is alluded to as a major societal collapse, governmental structures have been greatly reduced.

In one scene, Cooper attends parent teacher conferences, and we learn that post secondary education is limited to a very select few. We learn from the Principal and the teacher that Cooper's son is probably slotted to be a farmer. Not that there's anything wrong with being a farmer, but Cooper wants his son to have options beyond agriculture that the university will offer him.

The educators tell Cooper that his son's test scores "just aren't high enough." Here's the great line from McConaughey: Cooper asks the Principal his waist size, and then his inseam. The Principal doesn't see why this is important, but Cooper responds, "It takes two numbers to measure your own <>, but only one to measure my kid's future."

Well alright, alright.

There's also a funny/scary bit in which the teacher tells Cooper his daughter is being disciplined for bringing in an old science text that contradicts the official curriculum that the moon landings were faked in order to trick the Soviet Union into bankrupting itself. Sounds all too familiar.

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