I was having a fascinating conversation with a very articulate 9 year-old yesterday about learning and what it meant to him and he came out with the statement I've quoted above. My heart sank a little but I knew that, in the past few years with the focus we've had in Aotearoa/New Zealand on the National Standards, that this had become the reality for many of our students. This is not what teachers want for their learners and hopefully, there will now be a shift in practice with the Bill introduced yesterday by the Labour Government to remove National Standards.
Teachers are professionals. They know on a minute-by-minute basis how their students are achieving. They are making these assessments against their knowledge of their learners and the National Curriculum and the background knowledge they have of the criteria of the formal tools constantly. They don't stop.
Coincidentally, in my Twitter newsfeed this morning, a blog post by Steve Wheeler, (@timbuckteeth) popped up. Learning is a Journey - his latest blog post.
He writes about the importance of learning as a 'process not a product' and I couldn't agree more! Have we become forced to be so focused on the end result of the assessment that we've lost sight of that? I hope not and there are great Principals and teachers out there that continue to fight incredibly hard to keep that process to the forefront of learning. I wonder if the students see this though. Have we made it explicit enough to and for them?
Do they understand it as clearly as we do and what can we do to make it clearer to them?
We, (and our students), need assessment to know the next learning steps for our students but is learning 'driven by assessment' as Steve Wheeler suggests? I think, to a certain extent, it has been... particularly when you read the quote from a very wise 9 year-old. I'd love your thoughts.