Testing: Class Discussion vs Universal Knowledge

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Which is more important to assess on a test? Certain knowledge which was discussed in class, or universal knowledge found outside of class. Say a teacher asks for the definition of a word on a test or a quiz. Should he or she accept only the definition which he or she gave in class, or all definitions which could be found in a dictionary? I am raising this point because my English teacher, Ms. Reilly, recently did not accept the following definition for "allegory": "An allegory is a parallel tale which is a fictional tale which mirrors actual events." The day before the test, I was doing some searching about related topics to the book, The Crucible, on answers.com. Answers.com collates various reference sources and provides several definitions for allegory, some of which I read the day before the test. One of those definitions, from the Oxford Literary Dictionary comprises of several paragraphs. The excerpt which I remembered while taking the test reads: "In [a] written narrative, allegory involves a continuous parallel between two (or more) levels of meaning in a story, so that its persons and events correspond to their equivalents in a system of ideas or a chain of events external to the tale." As you can see, I clearly knew the meaning of the word "allegory", however, perhaps not the actual definition Ms. Reilly gave in class. Ms. Reilly has refused to accept my definition of allegory even when I promised to show her this definition made by a reputable source.

I believe that my answer should be accepted because it shows that I knew the definition of allegory enough to put it into my own words and because it contains ideas found outside her class. I strongly believe that the point of school is to understand what is being taught, interpret it, relate it to what you already know, and extend it. I strongly believe that the purpose of school, especially in the 21st century is not to remember, like a robot, the exact definition the teacher provides, temporally forgetting all outside knowledge about the topic, including what was taught in prior years of school.

In addition, by refusing to accept outside definitions, in my view, Ms. Reilly is penalizing those with previous knowledge of the topic, as well as those who went above and beyond to research the topic outside of class.

In such, I strongly believe that the purpose of school is to grow your understanding of the topic, by a variety of means, not just to remember what the teacher is telling you at that exact moment. Thus, I believe that Ms. Reilly should count my definition of the word "allegory," along with, in the future, any statement or statements made on the test, providing they can be successfully argued for, using support form internal or external resources, and can be considered true.