The World is flat. I know it is.
The world is flat. I know it is.
But what if it isn’t….nah….I know it is……it must be, everyone says it is, so it must be.
But, what if it isn’t? What if….
Tests are necessary. I know they are.
But what if they aren’t…nah….I know they are….they must be, everyone says they are, so they must be.
But, what if they aren’t. What if….
Imagining an educational world without written tests or formal written assessments is hard to do. It seems like written tests have always been around. It seems they are an intrinsic, organic part of classroom instruction. It is hard to imagine education without them. Years, ago, however, it was hard to imagine a world that was not flat. But someone did.
Intriguing to me in this week’s readings are the connections between imagination, learning, types of assessments and student/teacher communication.
It seems to me that encouraging the imagination of students comes hand in hand with encouraging the imaginations of administrators, education experts and teachers. A short investigation of the development of written assessments on the internet is enlightening. (see: https://www.princeton.edu/~ota/disk1/1992/9236/923606.PDF and https://daily.jstor.org/short-history-standardized-tests/)
According to these articles, formal, written test assessments in America are a relatively new mid-1800s phenomenon begun by administrators in efforts to deal with assessing and placing rising numbers of students. They seemed to have replaced more subjective oral assessments done between students and instructors. These oral assessments, in essence, perhaps, became a conversation. Students would have the flexibility to explain their reasoning, to explain their connections – not just return to the teacher the reasoning of the teacher – if the teacher can look or be open to reasoning other than their own.
Being open to different ways of doing things, to have an imagination that allows for “what ifs…” is an important characteristic for teachers. I spent many years teaching math and also experienced my children learning math from others. Students actually “do” math in different ways. There often is more than one way to solve equations or to solve a math problem. Some teachers, however, don’t allow for this. I experienced this frustration first hand as my children would solve things in different ways, but the math teacher could not imagine, and did not consider correct, anyway of solving the problem beyond the way they did it – even though my children had the correct answer. As a fellow math teacher, I immediately thought the teacher had no imagination, even ability to see another way of doing something. This was frustrating for me and extremely frustrating to my children. Having an imagination to look beyond just the ways we see the world would be a first step in opening the world of imagination for our students.
For me, right now, it would be difficult to imagine an educational system that did not have formal grades and written assessments. I believe I could only “imagine” it one step at a time. So I think for me, opening my imagination as a teacher to other ways of doing things, of different connections made by students, for what ifs…, for assessments that allow for these things could be a start. And once you have a start, imagining a world of education in which imagination, making connections, allowing for what ifs… might not be too far away.