English Breakfast: The Problem of Assessment!

teacher behind books
Source: https://pixabay.com/de/schule-studium-lernen-bücher-lesen-2051712/ 2/27/17

A major challenge in education is the proper assessment of students. What do we assess and how? Do we focus on the students’ strengths or faults? Should we focus on motivation or weaknesses? Isn’t it funny: When a student gets the results back from a test, he or she seldom hears the teacher saying <<Congrats, you have 16 answers correct!>>. The teacher probably might be saying something like <<What a shame, you have four answers wrong!>> We are so focussed on weaknesses that we forget to teach the students that they are great individuals.

The Goal of Assessment

Assessing students, the goal is to evaluate the individual performance and not the students themselves. That distinction is very important looking at the self-confidence. If we tell them what is wrong about them pretty much all the time, sooner than later self-doubts are going to predominate. If we focus on the strengths, the students are going to know what they can do rather than what they cannot do. So when they are grown-ups, they know what the are worth it. That is the most important part of education: Show the students who they are!

Splitting the Classroom Interaction

In a different article about the future classroom lab, I talked about the importance of splitting the classroom interaction. A positive effect of dividing the interaction into multiple steps is that everyone applies the individual strengths accordingly during the process of educating. There is a reason people say that education is a social process more than anything else. And focusing on the human nature, automatically foregrounds the strengths. We are not the same! Why should we be assessed the same way as our peers? Very difficult. 

It Starts With the Teacher

I always say during my keynotes <<If you wait for politics to change anything substantially, you will be getting pretty old waiting!>> Be it the future classroom, a new way to assess the students or the implementation of new teaching practices. It all can be done by the respective teacher with no money needed. But it will cost and take time. Interacting with the parents and the headmaster is going to require endurance and patience. But if patience was not an asset of every teacher, a lot of them would be going crazy …