I saw this cartoon in the back of Sky Magazine on a Delta flight–thought it might make for good blog fodder. As we approach conversations about banishing traditional assessment (hopefully in favor of rubrics rather than in favor of nothing), I’m sure we all agree that it will or should never reach this degree of absurdity. However, with phrases like “soft skills” and “high touch” entering the collective lexicon, it is not an illegitimate concern that “high touch” will come to mean “subjective intelligence,” and that subjective intelligence will come to mean “my uninformed but equally valid opinion.”
I’d like to hear your thoughts on the potential “softening” of expectations, and if Pink’s right-directed emphasis could be a catalyst for that.
Really, I’m just trying to start a food fight in the blogeteria…
3 thoughts on “…more than a feeling…”
Very funny T. In order for alternative assessments to work, I think we have to ensure that the method we use actually measures the objectives. Yes “it may be wrong, but that’s how I feel” is acceptable only if the student can prove that he has met the standard. In other words, does his subjective absurd way of thinking actually reveal that he understands the standard and that he knows how to use it. If it is in fact wrong, can he analyze why it is wrong? What is the answer missing that causes it to be wrong. The goal of alternative assessment is to encourage the student to demonstrate in his own way(s) that he has learned the standard or met the objective. If Willy can put that circle in a square and make it fit–hey! Why complain? 🙂
If we are providing our students with the right problems, there is great value in discussing answers that may turn out to be incorrect. I just finished watching a presentation by Dan Meyer, where he pointed out that we should care a great deal more about the thought process than about the ultimate answer itself. At the same time, there is foundational knowledge that our students must have. Others may disagree, but my opinion has not changed there.
I am glad you were able to use your time on Delta flights this weekend more productively than myself. I slept. I didn’t even get to use the “free wireless trial” card that I was handed stepping on the first flight. My response to initially being offered the card: “It’s for real free?”
I hope we don’t return to that type of “educational relativism” where his perspective is just as valid as hers even though it’s unsubstantiated by content, proof, or solid argument. My students are working on making good inferences, a necessary skills that always evokes befuddlement initially. Students want to throw out any judgment with the expectation that it cannot be questioned since it’s their perspective. Close reading of literature is effective when teaching this skill. My students are writing “chunks” at the moment: they must compose a topic sentence stating what the writer of a short story is arguing and how the writer defends that argument. Then, they must find three quotes that they can use to support their argument, and they must explain exactly how each quote provides defense. I keep referring to their topic sentence as their “client” and to themselves as the “defense attorney.” Whenever they attempt to make an inference that is unsupported by the text, I or one of the other students shouts out, “Objection.” They’ll add “hearsay” or some such legal jargon to make their point, but it has been effective at getting the kids to see that their perspective must rest on something other than thin air.