In the previous post, I discussed the views of various testing experts in favour of Schools of Testing. But not everyone feels that way!

There are some experts, who are against the concept of schools of testing. There are still others, who find the subject fine, but not for dividing the testers into groups. There are still others who find the concept not good in a certain context. Through the course of reading such views, I realized that there is a very thin line amongst the above thoughts. So, I decided to posts all views which fall into the mentioned categories as Views Against or Additional Perspective. I will publish this in two parts, to avoid too long posts, for readers’ convenience.
I will start with Cem Kaner’s views. That sounds interesting, right? How can one list Cem Kaner’s name in a post titled – ‘Views against Schools of Testing’?

Cem Kaner in his blog post acknowledges, that there are people who do not agree to the concept of schools. He says -“When Bret first started giving talks about 4 schools of software testing, several people reacted negatively:
• they felt it was divisive
• they felt that it created a bad public impression because it would be better for business (for all consultants) if it looks as though we all agree on the basics and therefore we are all experts whose knowledge and experience can be trusted
• they felt that it was inappropriate because competent testers all pretty much agree on the fundamentals.

Whereas these views are expressed by one of the founders of Context Driven school, but the points mentioned can be considered worthy of brainstorming when it comes to views against schools of testing.

I could find one of the strongest arguments against schools of testing, on Bj Rollison’s blog. In his post End the segregation of the four schools of testing, he says, “I am not a big fan of the ‘so-called’ 4 schools of testing. I don’t like segregation of any form because it can lead to biased opinions, incorrect assumptions, and a general disregard for things that are “different.” But, most importantly segregation stifles innovative thoughts, creative collaboration, and the ability to expand a person’s knowledge and in-depth understanding of the ‘system’ as a whole.
Bret Pettichord stated schools are based on a relationship or attraction rather than specific principles or doctrine, and that each school is defined by standards of criticism, exemplar techniques, and hierarchies of values. I think Bret’s definition of ‘school’ is good primarily because it dismisses the idea of basing a school on dogmatic teachings. But, I still think the notion of 4 distinct ‘schools’ of testing condones an “us versus them” sort of debate.”

He says that he as a tester thinks that all schools as mentioned by Bret have good characteristics like quality measurement, technical testing, people-focus & repeatable processes and instead of aligning to one school, there are a lot of things to learn from each. —– “So, isolating oneself, or a group of people, into one ‘school’ simply doesn’t make much sense. One of the greatest characteristics of professional testers is their ability to excel in diverse and dynamic situations, and their skill and knowledge of all the values and exemplar techniques and the ability to objectively critique assumptions and assertions.”

As a part of his reply to the comments of Shrini Kulkarni, he says “What’s wrong with “us vs. them?” It creates unnecessary friction that is counter-productive to the maturation of the discipline and the practice of testing, especially since so many people seem to take it so personally. Debate doesn’t require an us vs them mentality.” (Note: The corresponding comment by Shrini has been mentioned in my Views in Favour post).
On The EUROSTAR Community blog, in response to post on schools of testing, surprisingly, all three responses were against the concept-

Bj Rollison – “Schools of testing” are a ridiculous concept in my opinion. In truth, a professional tester understands processes, can accurately collect critical metrics for better analysis of KPIs, is analytical enough to reduce redundant testing, and is capable of designing tests within the context of importance to stakeholders.

Anonymous – I agree that categorising testers into specific groups (schools) is in no way helpful. In fact, defining people or segmenting groups is something in general that does not lie well with me, nobody likes to branded…

A good tester is a good tester (full stop) but different people of course do certain tasks differently, set about completing the task in an alternative manner but still all strive to complete the task to the best of their abilities and on time (hopefully :-)!!)

It’s what makes a great tester is where perhaps the debate should begin?

Anonymous – I have seen before and discussed this material in depth with other testers. We were almost unanimous that this categorisation was NOT at all helpful. In fact, we thought that these ideas were actually quite divisive.

In reality, we decided that we would desire a mix of ALL of these qualities in a GOOD tester!
An article at IT business discusses Boris Beizer’s views on Schools of Testing –

……<<<<<< Boris Beizer, author of five books on software testing, rejects both Bach’s approach and Bach’s characterization of his own ideas.

“”I would characterize James Bach as a proponent of what I would call the touchy-feely school of software testing,”” scoffs Beizer. As for the term context-driven testing, “”that sounds like one of James’ neologisms.”” References to different schools of testing are “”marketing terms,”” Beizer argues.

The supposed gulf between the different views almost seems to be disappearing when Beizer observes that “”nobody can just follow a prescribed set of rules. That’s a very narrow view of software testing.”” But he says that while there are various techniques to be applied in different situations, there is one absolute rule, “”and that is coverage . . . If you don’t test a piece of code, you can’t find the bugs that are in it. “” >>>>>> ……..
The views in this category will continue for a few more posts. As mentioned earlier, to make the length of the post manageable to be read, I am splitting this into multiple posts.

This is the seventh post in the series “The Big Fight – Schools of Testing”. For my previous posts on Schools of Testing, you can check the posts under the Schools of Testing Category.

Rahul Verma

One Response to “The Big Fight – Schools of Testing – Views Against and Additional Perspective – I”

  1. James Bach

    I appreciate how you put all this together, Rahul.

    It seems to me that some people can accept that there are different and mutually exclusive ideas in our field, and some people just can’t accept it. Another way of looking at the schools idea is that it gives us an orderly way to have irreconcilable disagreements.

    If it wasn’t for the schools concept, instead of saying “BJ Rollison talks as if he belongs to the Analytical School” I would have to say “BJ Rollison is a fool” or words to that effect.

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