The SCN Encourager – Friday, March 1, 2013

Another reason to despise standardized tests. (Like we need one.)

It’s not a theory. This conspiracy is real. Standardized tests are taking over the world.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve had to give several samples of blood to my doctor. He’s a pretty good doctor, but he missed his calling. He should’ve been a school communicator.

You see, when his office assistant phoned a few days ago to ask me to come in right away because “the doctor has some concerns with a few of your results,” I said “OK.”

Now, from our communications perspective, this is what we’d describe as an effective “call to action.” I was impressed. It only took my doctor’s office about 10 words to motivate me into grabbing my calendar and taking action. Nice job, doc! (Wish I could follow suit with our school chooser parents!)

So I went into my doctor’s office for a conference. I haven’t really been in for a conference before. Usually I’m just in for annual “check-ups.” But I discovered that at a conference, you keep your clothes on. So hey, this conference thing will work out just fine … or so I thought.

My doctor entered and immediately cut to the chase, showing off one more communications skill I haven’t mastered. “I’m concerned about your numbers,” he said. “Your weight, your cholesterol, and your blood sugar are all coming together in a perfect storm that may impact your future.”

I’m glad my doctor is not also a board certified psychiatrist because who knows what else he’d find if he had the freedom to poke around elsewhere, so I asked, “any good news?”

“Well,” he replied, “at your age, and with a more disciplined approach to exercise, you might be surprised by the progress you’d make in six months. (I sure would!) But we need to complete this assessment now. I need you to answer a few questions.”

Oh, oh. This is becoming too much like a parent / teacher conference.

Dr.            “Do you smoke”
Me.           “No.”
Dr.            “Do you drink less than two alcoholic beverages per week?”
Me.           “Yes.” (Right on! I’m on a roll.)
Dr.            “How many meals do you eat out per week?”
Me.           “Five, maybe six?” (Now trouble’s a-brewing…)
Dr.            “Would you call yourself a couch potato?”
Me.           “No, I’d call myself a school communicator, but my wife
                  and daughters would call me a couch potato.”  
Dr.             “Do you like salty snacks?”
Me.           “Yes.”
Dr.            “Do you have a sweet tooth?
Me.           “Yes.”
Dr.            “Do you exercise more than one hour per week?”
Me.           “No.” (What happened to open-ended questions anyway?)
Dr.            “Everything fine at home and work?”
Me.           “Yes. I have many blessings to count.”
Dr.            “Good to hear. So let’s try to keep you around for a few more years.”
Me.            “OK. Will I need to give more blood and take pills?”
Dr.             “No, this is going to require a major lifestyle change, though.”
Me.            “Will this affect the 23 people who read my daily Encourager?”
                   (No. I didn’t really ask this. Bad joke. Sorry.)
Me.            Back in truth mode:  “What’s this all mean?”
Dr.             “Well, through a balanced program of nutrition and exercise,
                  I see no reason why you can’t get your weight, sugar, and
                  cholesterol levels down to where they need to be.”
Me.            “Why can’t I just give more blood and take pills?”
Dr.             “No, this is on you. You must make better choices.”
Me.            “OK.” (and I know the doc’s right.)
Dr.             “One last question … do you have a smart phone?”
Me.             “A what?”
Dr.              “A smart phone. Do you have one?”
Me.            “Yes. Here it is. You’re welcome to use it or make a call.”
Dr.             “No, I have two apps I’m going to prescribe for you to
                  download and follow until your next appointment in six months.”

Standardized assessments. I hate them. All I got out of my own “snapshot in time” is that my doctor is more intelligent, more technologically proficient, and a better communicator than me. Swell.

If my future “messages of encouragement” to you seem more testy than normal, at least you’ll now know why. I don’t test very well.













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