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Assessing Assessments

February 28, 2009

The central question of assessments concerns the nature and purpose of being human.  Any assessment applied to a human person must be appropriate for a human person.  The dilemma is how to avoid depersonalizing students without at the same time marginalizing students in a way that disconnects them from the communities in which they live.  This is difficult because the culture comprised of today’s communities is increasingly growing impersonal.

 

My wife recently told me that one of her co-workers (they work retail in Manhattan) suggested that the reason so many people lack basic social skill is that they decreasingly deal directly with people.  The push of a button gets people what they want immediately.  The required language is direct and impersonal.  The only acceptable service is individual satisfaction.  Indirect and impersonal digital networking is taking the place of direct and personal human relations.

 

Put differently, modern culture labors to smooth out differences.  Particularity is generally frowned upon in a time and place that desires to level personal identity for the purpose of making everyone the same.  The many are swallowed up by the homogenous one enslaving the person to a form of collectivism.  Some examples are:

 

  1. Politics: bi-partisanship, and by that we mean no partisanship.
  2. Economics: everyone deserves to own a home—everyone.
  3. Arts: reality television—everyone is famous.
  4. Church: non-denominationalism

 

But Christian classical education does not accept this, and it should not.  We are education persons not monads.  However, at some point when the student will leave home and enter the world a degree of dissonance is likely to occur.  Does this, or should it change the way we assess?

 

Currently, the majority of assessments that I see on a day to day basis as a Christian classical educator take a non-personal form.  What is the alternative?  Can we attempt to draft some guiding principles, or move forward in some other way?

 

Assessment principles:

 

  1. Any assessment administered to a student should be written by the teacher.
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