Saturday, 25 April 2015

#rhizo15 Blog #2: The Counting!


This week Dave asks us – if you can’t measure learning – what can you count?

Or as Dave says it:  

This week’s challenge Get out there and count! What can we measure that isn’t learning? Think about all the other facets of the human experience… can we do better? What about all the fancy tools we’ve seen… can they help? Should we throw it out all together? Can we help people measure themselves? Is there a better way of looking at it? Be theoretical. Be practical… but GRADE ME!



The naming of parts
This takes me back to last week and ‘The Naming of Parts’. The Henry Reed poem has the voice of the drill sergeant naming parts – even those parts that ‘you do not have’. The responses are the poetic thoughts of the men – in the garden amongst the coral flowers – the almond blossoms - the bees – easing the spring. That poem captures the dichotomous nature of education for me – on the one hand the percussive naming of parts; the taxonomies; the hierarchies; the lists; our places on the lists… on the other the joyous wandering.

In the end it is the reason I dropped out of school. I was studying botany, zoology and chemistry (and not allowed to combine these with English Literature – for that did not fit!) – and oh it was all about the naming of parts: family - phyla – genus… the whole nine yards – and for what and for why?

Like Piaget and his hierarchy of learning: enactive – iconic – symbolic – going upward – leaving the doers behind. Of course. 

A perfect model for a measuring system.
Ironic that I’m currently teaching on a module: ‘Managing the Assessment and Feedback Process’ – and one assignment that we set is that participants have to determine a group project on an assessment-related topic and they have to generate measurement criteria for their group presentation.
What a fraud am I?

My criteria would be:
Fail: did not meet the criteria

C: met the assignment criteria

A: met the criteria – and demonstrated engagement, joy and/or enthusiasm.

B: not sure about B – more than a C – not enough joy for an A.

Bonus: Bonus marks are available for something special or interesting. Capturing bonus marks means that you could score 100% for this assignment.

I don’t suppose we’d get that past the Validation Panel.

Funnily enough we’re trying to do something a bit like this on our first year module, Becoming an Educationalist. We have set several projects for the students to do – including taking over three weeks of the course for their ‘Performances’. (For this week’s performance, check out this student blog: https://becomingeducational.wordpress.com/2015/04/24/learning-log-week-26/ .) It is a year-long module and we set a Research Project and an Essay – but we’ve also allocated 30% of the marks for three portfolio items - and said to the students that they can submit anything – a blog post – a piece of art – a notebook… anything that reflects their best learning experience – anything that showcases their creativity – talent – engagement – joy. And of course this is really confusing. And of course – we try to be helpful. But not to say so much that we generate another form of strait jacket – we want the bees and the flowers – and not the naming of parts.

Postscript:
For those who fancy a course video – here’s a Yale one on Zizek, D&G and the rhizome: http://oyc.yale.edu/english/engl-300/lecture-15
For those who fancy an even better course video – here’s Zizek on the Internet:
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