Monday, May 28, 2007

[bias in education] crooked toefl exam

This is one of the questions on the current TOEFL online practice exam:

9. Some of the oldest and most widespread creation myths are ________ involving the algiving "Earth Mother".

those them they their

Under the guise of a word usage test, the expression 'creation myths' is introduced but immediately deflected onto the earth pagans, who are clearly a soft target.

The Christian lobby seemingly can't attack Q9 because it doesn't specifically refer to them in 'some of the oldest and most widespread' and yet the very employment of the term 'creation myths', with that all important qualifying "s" at the end, at a time when intelligent design is an issue, negates the seeming innocence of the question composer.

Why wasn't the question:"Some of the oldest and most widespread theories are…"? Why "creation"? Why "myths" even? In a supposedly politically and religiously neutral exam, it is quite unforgivable.

Now it will be interesting how my blogfriends, who rail against blatant hypocrisy in other areas, will react to this one. Will they quietly pass this over or will they see the essential wrongness in it?

I wait with bated breath. Who'll lead off? Tiberius?


Gracchi said...

James I've got the flu- I'll have the argument with you afterwards but I'm lying in bed with a temprature and some lemsip so it'll have to wait.

james higham said...

Sorry, old chap. Get well.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

James, I agree with you. This is appalling in this kind of exam [ok, so it's a "practice"]. Talk about a culturally loaded question! Who employs these question-setters, how much are they paid and when are they going to get to grips with the "real" world of those they are testing? I could weep.

Colin Campbell said...

I have to agree with you James, although I personally don't dispute the premise of the question. This kind of load agenda ridden stuff is unnecessary.

james higham said...

Good - it wasn't just me then?