Tests, scripted, and taken

So I was watching some short videos on cognitive biases the other day when my mind wandered on to the topic of tests and testing. The things that we do to investigate the quality of software, and the thing most people do in large rooms under time pressure, and I wondered if the most commonly understood meaning of the word testing, as in formal highly structured, controlled and scripted process of answering questions on a specific topic under time pressure to receive a grade has poisoned, to use a dog training term, the ability to get people to understand testing as a process of exploring, learning, evaluating, modeling etc software to help make a value judgement on its quality.
So what do I mean by poisoned, in dog training terms if you have a cue you have taught your dog that elicits a specific behaviour, such as down, to lay on the floor, and then other people repeatedly, and constantly overuse the term, ie more than once per requested behaviour, and also use it to mean get off that thing/me/other person. The dog will stop having a cue down for laying on the floor, and the down cue will like not result in any particular behaviour.
So how am I applying this to the endless education issue around testing in software testing, we are bombarded with the word test and the school exam meaning for many of our formative years, and again if you enter an industry that has a high degree of continuous study and testing to maintain a level of knowledge and does this via formal testing. Rarely do any of these tests reflect our use of the word testing, they seem anathema to it, in fact, all formal, with a gravitas and pomp to give the appearance of great importance. 
Is this in fact the fight that we are having to get people to accept that testing software  can legitimately be exploratory and investigatory, rather than a highly formalised and scripted process, has the interpretation of test become an Alief in the minds of the general population?
What are your thoughts, why is it so difficult to shift the understanding of the word Test?
Doug

Dog Training and Testing

So my partner is big into dog training, and she spends quite a considerable amount of time learning good techniques and putting them into practice with our little puppy. Most recently she been teaching the dog to bring items to her hand and given them to her.

A complex string of behaviour for a dog, first they have to pick up the item, then hold it, then carry it to her, then release it to her waiting hand.
What’s the got to do with testing, you ask. Well the way our dog is learning this reminded me of exploratory testing, it’s a technique called shaping, your dog does something you like, so you mark it and reward, and reinforce as they continue to do this. However you raise the reward criteria as they get a better understanding of what you are looking for. So as the dog nudges the pick up toy, you reward, they put teeth on it, reward, and so on, until they are holding it, and moving it, and on it goes until finally the dog has worked out what you want.

It struck me that this is so like ET, you come across the edges of a issue, and get that endorphin release that you are on the right track, who doesn’t enjoy finding bugs, and you keep testing around it until you understand more about the issue, and you keep at it, honing in on what’s going on, until finally you get the complete picture.
I speculated that this would probably mean that much like shaping, the more a dog is trained using this the faster they get at working out what gets the the rewards, the offer all sorts of crazy combos of previously learnt behaviours just to see what results in a reward, it’s awesome to watch by the way. Then ET is almost certainly the same, the more you practice ET the better you get, the more techniques you’ve learnt, that you can try out in crazy combos until you run across that issue you’ve been hunting for.
I’m new to ET, but this gives me a good deal of reassurance that its a solid path to learning good skills through your run of the mill practice makes, well not perfect, but definitely better.

That was my thought for the day. Hope you enjoyed it.

Doug