In this initial instalment of the Exploring Assessment Pathway series, we may begin to see in the statements of leaders in (rural) education various forms of engagement with the historical thinking that informs what has been given as assessment in contemporary education in this part of the (broadly European-derived) world.
Here we find assessment in flux, subject to radical revision, even largely outmoded, and differentially complex with respect to different age groups of children. Further, assessment and its culture in education are variously articulated, as a kind of monological indoctrination, as an ethnocentric and broadly habituated ruse of legitimacy, and as systematic credentialing in the subordination to the authority of certain forms of knowledge—and also to their associated pedagogical and professional expertise. As much as assessment determines the ‘direction’ of education, in creating and sustaining what is of value, it is seen also, more importantly, to exclude, deceive, confound, and legitimate.
Thus, the consensus among these educational leaders of rural school districts in British Columbia is that assessment can only today call us to inquiry, to the beginnings of a new project of invention, and this is inquiry in, and toward, the ethics of education itself.
As in the first New Pathway (on the Engagement in education), again we begin with educator/administrators reflective about a structural, historical and systemic pathology—this time not with respect to how educators and students are engaged in education, but instead with how value is instituted in education.
Again and again, the willingness to open the educational discussion to uncomfortable and difficult questions—like the insufficiencies, parochialisms, and failings of educational institution—has been the basis of a searching courage characteristic of all of the projects Growing Innovation has been privileged to support. We hope it may inspire you as well…to the kinds of commitments and transformations we have seen and been able to document in Growing Innovation in Rural Sites of Learning.
This brief video starts us exploring assessment with the comments of two superintendents of schools and three school principals. They work and live in four school districts in British Columbia from the Province’s Central Interior, Kootenay and Peace River regions. The interviews took place from 2012 to 2016. With them lets take the first step:
Some questions to consider (we recommend brief small group discussions that can each then ‘compare notes’ about the different directions opened in how such ‘complicated’ conversations can go):
How do you respond to this video?
What does it bring to mind for you?
How did you learn about education from assessment? What memories and feelings does the concept inspire for you?
How do you think assessment informs how education and what ‘to be educated” are conceived, and accepted?
From where do the ways assessment is historically determined in education originate? Of what forms of power has it been, and is it a part? What struggles for the ‘soul’ of education in and through the legitimacy of different forms of assessment?