Skools are a horrid place. It starts with legitimised grade falsification over discipline issues like attendance and participation, and often over being sufficiently deferential to the teacher. It continues with the implicit assumption that children must be forced to learn that comes out in the constant forced feedback to make sure students are paying attention. This takes forms like graded assignments, quizzes, and participation grades. Worse still is that teachers design tests based on what they consider important, and so one must listen to teacher to pass tests. Tests should be designed by third party certification agencies, and classes should be optional things designed to help people learn the material (only the parts they want to learn, which may or may not be what's on the test - student's decision). Much like SAT prep classes (I imagine - never been to one). Of course, there would be other classes not designed for any sort of certification, with no need for grades. By separating the issues of certification and education, schools would be able to focus on one and thus do it better. And when it became popular opinion that current certification methods hurt people (we all know no one likes tests, but few people seem to care), then new certification companies sporting new methods would spring up to compete with the testing-based ones. And people would flock to them.
I agree. We should just let children learn what they want or attend class when the urge strikes them...
You know who else needs forced education? Adults I consider dumb. And liberals.
While I largely agree with the points you are making, I actually kind of like some tests. I like tests with good questions that I can answer creatively, particularly if the test expects creative answers.
I think the problem is not that tests are bad, so much that tests are not usually trying to test someone's ability to solve problems in a given area. They're more or less created to test someones's ability to repeat known solutions to problems.
It's necessary and good to test understanding of known solutions to problems, but that can't be done with an exam that does not expect students to solve problems and create knowledge while they take the exam. Knowledge of solutions means understanding why they are true, being able to apply them, and knowing how to defend them. Good exams should take this into account.