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But it's not on the test!

A few days ago, I asked "What ever happened to information literacy?" wondering if it was still being addressed in schools. A reader of the Blue Skunk blog on its Facebook account commented:

Unless it’s tested it’s never going to be a priority in our schools.

This is a common sentiment. "Teach to the test" seems to be a common (and practical) philosophy of many teachers.

But do good teachers only teach what will be tested? I don't think so.

The best teacher somehow manages to teach those skills, facts, and understandings that society (via legislation) have identified as important for its citizens to know in order to be productive. Although often antiquated or misguided, the teacher understands and honors his/her role in the part of the educational process. I get it.

But I believe most teachers find time and resources to share their passions with their students as well. They understand that not everything, even the most important things, can be tested - at least on a multiple guess test.

Information literacy, I hope, is one of those passions for many teachers. The ability to determine accuracy, bias, and relevance of information in an age in which anyone can and does make "information" available online is more necessary than ever. Good teachers will help student not understand just how to evaluate their sources, but why doing so is so critical.

Great teachers also give time and energy to "teaching":


  • Creativity
  • Interpersonal skills such as empathy
  • Play
  • Honesty and fair play
  • Respect for diversity
  • Joy and passion for personal areas of interest (Civil War, poetry, baseball, favorite authors, chemistry ...)
  • Numeracy


Many of became aware of those areas of interest we still love due to a teacher who went beyond the test. Many of us have been able to perform humanely and effectively because we expected to do so in a class, despite some of those skill being immeasurable.

Many of us are better people thanks to a teacher who expected the best of us - not just the best performance on a standardized test.

Thanks, teachers, for teaching what's not on the test.

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