从任务驱动到分析例证:美国SAT写作“脱胎换骨”的变化

 

■ 王爱娣

   按语:上午高考正在进行中。广东、安徽等26省采用全国Ⅰ卷,作文还会继续去年开始的新题型“任务驱动作文”吗?在等待试题曝光的时间里,先说说美国大学入学考试SAT的写作“脱胎换骨”的变化吧。
 
  正文:
  对教育现状的不满,对学科教学的诟病,是世界各国人民对待教育的一贯态度。中国如此,美国也不例外。尽管教育一直是朝着理想的目标前进,每前进一小步都要付出巨大的代价,但它目前所达到的水准依旧不能令所有国人满意,因此,各种指责、非议乃至批判之声不绝于耳。又临高考,语文作为首场科目,作文试题首当其冲,本场考试一结束,总免不了一场全国性的沸沸扬扬。
  在备考那段日子里,高三教师都在探讨一种新的写作模型“任务驱动作文”如何写作,如何应考,而完整地走过任务驱动写作这段历程的美国SAT考试专家对这种写作类型又会怎么看?
  在等待试题曝光的时间里,不妨说说美国的大学入学考试 SAT(学术能力倾向性考试)写作考试吧。2016年起,SAT写作试题运用新题型,这种新题型与往年的任务驱动类型的写作相比,有什么变化?为什么变化?
  往年的SAT写作都是给定一段文字材料,引导学生思考,最后指定一项写作任务,任务大多是你对文字中的观点怎么看,或者是这些观点引发你哪些思考,写作一篇表达观点的文章。今年起,这种试题被废,完全采用一种新型的写作项目,即阅读给定的文章,写一篇分析报告。所以说是“脱胎换骨”的变化。
  为什么要改革写作试题呢?美国人总有自己强硬的理由。
  共同核心州立课程标准颁布以后,从2013年初,美国大学董事会(College Board)现任主席David Coleman先生就宣布SAT 将再次改革,其中就包括作文类型的革命。改革宣布之时,Coleman先生表示对SAT当前作文(Essay)部分的不满。他曾表示发现很多考生编造例子,而评分标准中并没有针对考生所写内容准确性的要求。“只要作文有清晰的结构和个人的观点,就能获得高分,就曾有高分考生将《独立宣言》的作者写成是Justin Bieber,并称《独立宣言》导致了法国革命。”“我们不应当鼓励学生编造事实”,David Coleman先生如是说,“我们应当让他们以自己的最佳例证去支持一种观点。”Coleman先生再三强调SAT考试应回归到使学生整理例证的要求中,他说道:“改进后的SAT考试核心将是分析例证,要让考生用数学知识去分析经济研究或科学实验中的数据,或让考生分析给出的关于文学、历史、地理和自然科学方面的例证。”为此,2016年SAT写作便迎来了“脱胎换骨”的变化。
  这种新的写作试题是为了检测考生“为大学作准备”的写作能力。美国大学课程体系中,学术写作是“基于证据的”(Evidence-based)写作,即根据已有的资料和数据撰写分析性报告。而过去SAT的Essay(任务驱动式) 则为“基于观点的”(Opinion-based)写作,即为表达观点型的写作。考生可以在考前准备一些“万能素材”,多数为名人轶事、经典文学作品或著名历史事件,甚至在考场凭空捏造论据,只要能证明自己的观点即可。
  改革后的SAT 考试中,考生会被要求依据预先提供的文字材料展开分析和论述,材料涉及文学、历史、科学、地理等各个领域。这既实现了对考生分析能力的评估,也避免了例子和证据的编造。这种分析例证类写作,要求学生不仅要具备很强的分析能力,而且有很强的篇章结构意识,例如开头如何提出问题,接下来如何展开论证,最后如何重申观点等,以及对文章思维的推理演进、观点表达的层层深入、环环相扣的起承转合等严密逻辑有独到的慧眼,并且熟悉各种修辞技巧和论证方法等。在此基础上,考生写出一篇分析报告。目前这种写作试题很难有现成的模板可用。
  因此,有人说这种分析例证式SAT新写作,是“写作模板时代的终结者”。而我们的高考作文却刚刚跳出“文体不限,立意自定”的开放时代,尝试着从标题作文到话题作文再到新材料作文的转变,进入任务驱动式写作的新题型,这样会不会又掉进了美国人所说的“写作模板”的新时代呢?且看中国高中学生的伟大创造吧。我们拭目以待。
  
附:SAT真题作文
  下面附上2016年3月5日北美地区SAT考试真题的写作资料。
  资料来源:http://sat.zhan.com/zhengce42087-2.html
  写作部分(写作备考关键词: 修辞手法 美国报刊)
  这次考试的写作部分,字数共712字,符合OG中的标准650-750字。内容上基本也符合美国12年级的阅读水平,从阅读难度上来讲不算很难。但是,文章从分析写作手法的角度来看确实增加了难度。文章不像OG中的文章那样容易找到rhetorical devices, 对同学们的阅读分析能力是个很大的调整。
  写作原题:
  文章是出自Washington Post 华盛顿邮报的一篇文章。此次新SAT首考的作文题的阅读文章源自E.J. Dionne Jr.于2013年7月3日发表在The Washington Post(《华盛顿邮报》)文章名为 A Call for National Service。
Adapted from E.J. Dionne Jr., “A Call for National Service”© 2013 by Washington Post. Originally published July 03, 2013.
 
Here is the sentence in the Declaration of Independence we always remember: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they areendowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these areLife, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
And here is the sentence we often forget: “And for the support of this Declaration, with affirm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge toeach other our Lives, our Fortunes and our Sacred Honor.”
This, the very last sentence of the document, is what makes the better-remembered sentence possible. One speaks of our rights. The other addresses our obligations. The freedoms we cherish are self-evident but not self-executing. The Founders pledge something “to each other,” the commonly overlooked clause in the Declaration’s final pronouncement.
We find ourselves, 237 years after the Founders declared us a new nation, in a season of discontent, even surliness, about the experiment they launched. We are sharply divided over the very meaning of our founding documents, and we are more likely to invoke the word “we” in the context of “us versus them” than in the more capacious sense that includes every single American.
There are no quick fixes to our sense of disconnection, but there may be a way to restore our sense of what we owe each other across the lines of class, race, background— and, yes, politics and ideology.
Last week, the Aspen Institute gathered a politically diverse group of Americans under the banner of the “Franklin Project,” named after Ben, to declare a commitment to offering every American between the ages of 18 and 28 a chance to give a year of service to the country. The opportunities would include service in our armed forces but also time spent educating our fellow citizens, bringing them healthcare and preventive services, working with the least advantaged among us, and conserving our environment.
Service would not be compulsory, but it would be an expectation. And it just might become part of who we are.
The call for universal, voluntary service is being championed by retired U.S. Army Gen.Stanley McChrystal, in league with two of the country’s foremost advocates of the cause, John Bridgeland, who served in the George W. Bush administration, and Alan Khazei, co-founder of City Year, one of the nation’s most formidable volunteer groups. The trio testifies to the non-ideological and nonpartisan nature of this cause, as did a column last week endorsing the idea from Michael Gerson, my conservative Post colleague.
“We’ve remarkable opportunity now,” McChrystal says, “to move with the American people away from an easy citizenship that does not ask something from every American yet asks a lot from a tiny few.” We do, indeed, owe something to our country, and we owe an enormous debt to those who have done tour after tour in Iraq and Afghanistan.
McChrystalsees universal service as transformative. “It will change how we think about America and how we think about ourselves,” he says. And as a former leader ofan all-volunteer Army, he scoffs at the idea that giving young Americans astipend while they serve amounts to “paid volunteerism,” the phrase typically invoked by critics of service programs. “If you try to rely on unpaid volunteerism,” he said, “then you limit the people who can do it. . . . I’d like the people from Scarsdale to be paid the same as the people from EastL.A.”
There are real challenges here. Creating the estimated 1 million service slots required to make the prospect of service truly universal will take money, from government and private philanthropy. Service, as McChrystal says, cannot just be a nice thing that well-off kids do when they get out of college. It has to draw in the least advantaged young Americans. In the process, it could open new avenues for social mobility, something the military has done for so many in the past.
Who knows whether the universal expectation of service would change the country as much as McChrystal hopes. But we have precious few institutions reminding us to join the Founders in pledging something to each other. We could begin by debating this proposal in a way that frees us from the poisonous assumption that even an idea involving service to others must be part of some hidden political agenda. The agenda here is entirely open. It’s based on the belief that certain unalienable rights entail certain unavoidable responsibilities.

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