How the first standardized tests helped start a war — really





People who think standardized tests are wreaking havoc in education today may be interested to take a look back at a different kind of trouble they sparked many years ago.

The first standardized tests, any world history student can tell you, were created in ancient China, during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD), when officials designed civil service exams to choose people to work in the government based on merit rather than on family status. The goal was to create an intellectual meritocracy based on Confucian learning. The system of exams was consolidated during later dynasties; through the centuries until the late 18th century, the core material was hardly altered....

...The civil service exams actually played a part in the Taiping Rebellion, which left about 20 million people dead in the 19th century. How? In the mid-1800s, a lower middle class man named Hong Houxiu, who was only partly educated, wanted to join the Qing bureaucracy. Here’s how the society’s website explains what happened...



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