Schools of Testing Revisited

Rahul Verma invited me to read several very well-compilled posts discussing various views on the 'schools' of testing. I previously expressed my personal views on the topic and in a comment on the EuroStar blog. Rahul researched multiple resources to produce a fine, unbiased series of several posts that discuss various viewpoints and opinions on the concept of 'schools' in software testing.

Bret Pettichord has spoken widely on this subject and he makes several very strong arguments in favor of the 'schools' concept. I respect Bret and his views because he is an intelligent guy and always open to discuss and consider differing views and opinions. Last February Bret sent me mail agreeing with my statement that "...isolating oneself, or a group of people, into one 'school' simply doesn't make much sense." He added that he considered himself a member of different schools depending on who he was communicating with at the time because the "same words mean different things in the different schools."

But, in my opinion this also illustrates part of the problem. Let's assume for a moment that we do recognize several 'schools' within the discipline of testing. If each 'school' defines 'acceptance testing' differently than we really don't have different 'schools' of thought united under a single discipline, we actually have several unique disciplines.

Anyway, I suggest you take some time to read Rahul's blog posts on the subject and reach your own conclusions and develop your own unique viewpoints on the topic.

BTW...I did see the completely unprofessional sniping by James Bach where he posted 2 identical comments stating "BJ Rollison is a fool" on 2 separate posts (including one post in which I am not even referenced). I guess when the well of logic and analytical reasoning dry up some people will resort to their unbridled emotions and simply hurl personal insults in a puerile attempt to prove their point.

Comments (5)

  1. Rahul Verma says:

    Hi Bj,

    Thanks for accepting my invitation to read the series of posts at my blog.

    I had already read much in favour of the schools. Your post on "End the segregation of schools of tesing" was one of the initial writings on the web that made me think that there are people who strongly condemn the concept. When I explored further, I found that there are so many different views scattered over the web. That’s how the story began. I started this to learn more about what different people have to say and in the process, thought to publish it as well.

    I am encouraged by the response which this series of posts has got. As my purpose was neither to sell it nor to condemn it, so it turned out to be a repository of all kinds of views on the schools of testing. I am happy that you have liked it this way.

    There are about 4-5 more posts yet be published. Hope you find them interesting as well.


    Rahul Verma.

  2. Shrini says:

    >>>Last February Bret sent me mail agreeing with my statement that "…isolating oneself, or a group of people, into one ‘school’ simply doesn’t make much sense."

    BJ – This gives me an impression that Bret has disowned very concept origin of which has been attributed to him. Is this true?

    Even in Rahul’s marathon series of posts related to debate on School concept – I have not seen much of Bret’s views … (I might be wrong as I have gone in detail all these posts) – But in whatever I have seen there is little Bret….

    So where go from here …?

    a) Reject the notion of schools (set of beliefs and value system) and continue to be "I know testing", "I adapt to the requirements of the client" etc?

    b) Regroup under another school or any identical strong concept or movement.

    c) Status Quo – Kind of oblivious state.

    I know we have exchanged lot of stuff on this matter – But as a life time tester – I learn and develop new perspective every day. Some time that changes some of my beliefs. One thing I constantly do – "Question your beliefs, understanding" about Testing.

    What about you?


  3. I.M.Testy says:

    Hi Shrini,

    I will not speak for Bret or attempt to express his views, but in my opinion Bret has not ‘disowned’ the idea of ‘schools.’ In fact, when I last spoke to him he said he was expanding the list to include the ‘test-driven/agile school.’ I interpret Bret’s statement as saying (and my own personal opinion is) if a person aligns themselves with only one ‘school’ of thought they eventually become biased and develop a very narrow view of the ‘world’ which ultimately limits their ability to think broadly across multiple perspectives and rationally analyze the value of disparate approaches or concepts.

    I understand there are different ways to think about a problem. I also understand the value of labeling things in a taxonomic structure of sorts as a learning mechanism (because some people are better learners when things are classified into ordered groups). However, at some point the learner should understand the value that exists in the various “standards of criticism, exemplar techniques, and hierarchies of values”  (‘schools’ as defined by Bret Pettichord) and how they are intertwined and inter-relational, and how they must all be realized in order to be most effective in our role as professional testers.

    In my opinion, when some people misinterpret Bret’s  concepts of ‘schools’ as a ‘belief’ system or ‘movement’ then the idea of ‘schools’ becomes a sort of religious dogma and zealots who proclaim one ‘school’ as superior to others tend to separate and disparage rather than accept and embrace diverse and alternative views and perspectives. This diminishes the value of a taxonomy as a learning mechnaism. (Hence my earlier post on stopping the segregation.)

    (Personally, I find it interesting that people seem to be of 2 basic opinions regarding this matter. One group of people who claim to be members of one particular ‘school,’ and the other group of people who don’t align themselves with any particular school (although they sometimes tend to be labeled as a member of one of the other schools by people in the first group). Which makes me think…if the concept of categorical ‘schools’ really existed in our profession then wouldn’t there also be outspoken pundits of the analytic, factory and quality ‘schools’ trying to convince people that their particular ‘school’ was superior to the others?)

    So, “where do we go from here?” I think people should carefully read Rahul’s posts with an open mind and reach their own conclusions. The profession of software testing (as a whole) will eventually follow a path that provides value to the practitioners.

  4. I. M. Testy says:

    Tonight I was having dinner at the superb Italian restaurant L’Olivo along the canal in Nyhaven, Denmark

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