Saturday, August 06, 2011

Student Assessments


The small, landlocked South Asian Kingdom of Bhutan uses an index called "Gross National Happiness" to guide all of it's economic and development plans. They take it very seriously and the success or failure of every governmental policy is measured according to this index. One must even submit a GNH impact statement for review before undertaking any new endeavor, public or private, that may impact on the general well-being of the nation.

I just mention that by way of pointing out that there are ways other than money, perhaps even better ways, to assess the real value of an economic activity, just as there are ways other than test scores and grades, perhaps better ways, to assess the real value of education.

For instance, I've never come across a standardized test that measures the ability and willingness to take turns, but everyone knows that it's one of a happy life's most essential skills.


And you're sure not going to get very far if you don't work well with others, but you don't see that on any of the corporate academic assessment matrixes.


Or how about curiosity? I'll take curiosity over knowing the capital of Bhutan any day. (It's Thimphu. I was curious and looked it up.)


And anyone who has studied what it takes get what you want out of life knows that boldness . . .


. . . and the willingness to take risks . . .


. . . and the ability to fall down . . .


. . . and get back up is far more important than the ability to diagram a sentence or deduce that the answer is "none of the above." What meager things we've come to expect from our schools.


A well educated person is skeptical and often full of doubt.


She looks at things closely and doesn't necessarily take my word for it.


An educated person tries new things . . .


. . . and plays dramatically with his friends, practicing the complex interpersonal skills that will ultimately get him through life.


When I'm assessing students, I want them to be able to stand on their own two feet.


And to invent new things (at least things that are new to them) . . .


. . . and to feel proud of their accomplishments.


I'm looking for kids who help others . . .


. . . and can work well on their own . . .


. . . concentrating . . .


. . . and persevering . . .


. . . and just being silly.


I want to see that they are full of awe and wonder.


And ultimately, like the King of Bhutan, I'm always looking out for our Gross National Happiness.


Because in this world if we are to be truly happy, we are to be happy together. No one can call himself educated unless he understands this. And therein lies the most important academic skill of all -- the capacity for unmitigated . . .


. . . unbridled joy.


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15 comments:

Teacher Weena said...

I couldn't agree with you more. Your'e the man, Teacher Tom!

Play is Important said...

As ever insightful and spot on!

Buddy said...

How often should children be tested? I think about once an hour..."Hey is there anyone here who didn't get five plus five equals ten? Hello, anybody?"

Barbara Zaborowski said...

One of my bulletin boards early in the year asks parents what they want their child to be like when grown and inviting them to post their answers. NO ONE says they want a straight-A student or a Harvard grad. They want their kids to become loving, curious, self confident adults. This year I'm going to keep their answers and do a bulletin board with photos of the kids illustrating those answers.

Autumn mama said...

One of my posts earlier this summer was about Joy -- and our ability to see the joy rise as the children were learning through play in their new outdoor natural playspace... i read your post with joy in my heart, and tears of inspiration in my eyes... well said, and thank you.
namaste
dawn

Aunt Annie said...

By this measure, it seems we are electing the most uneducated to govern us in my country... perhaps I'll move to Bhutan! lol

I am SO reposting this. :)

Lisa_J said...

Excellent captivation of the vital importances of social/emotional skills. Adore the inclusion of captions and pictures. This is reassuring and inspirational to me!Thank you!

Briana said...

What a great reminder, and something that I will definitely use in my vocabulary in the future! Thank you!

Dee said...

Thanks for sharing this post. Agree fully to what you have shared.

Anonymous said...

I'm a special ed teacher who is expected to have students reach proficiency on a standardized test. The growth my students make can't be measured by a standardized test. However, their GNH, mine, and the GNH of their parents are constantly through the roof due to their progress. I'm with you all the way!

Lynn said...

You said it, and well. I love that I work in a place that values all that you mentioned and lets parents know that's our objective. You are an inspiration for me to stretch even more with the projects and ideas to work with the preschoolers. Thank-you for this great blog and your creative thinking.

Scott said...

Thanks, Tom. Wise words. I can't think of any better achievement goals.

Males in Early Childhood said...

I'm happier for just reading this!

Melissa @ The Chocolate Muffin Tree said...

Great post. Well said! Thank you.

Go Beyond The Classroom said...

I am posting this on the office door! Thank you for your contributions, Teacher Tom!

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