Dialogue with Authors - October 27, 2020
BEYOND THE TYRANNY OF TESTING: Relational Evaluation in Education
By: Kenneth J. Gergen and Scherto Gill
Practices of assessment in education are byproducts of a bygone era. As grades and test scores now become the very goals of education, learning suffers, along with the well-being of both students and teachers. Proposed here is an alternative to the assessment tradition, in which schools no longer function as factories, but as sites of collective meaning making. It is within the process of relating that the world comes to be what it is for us. We draw from this process our understandings of the world, of what is rational and good. Both learning and well-being are thus the outcomes of relational process. Assessment practices undermine this process. A relational orientation to evaluation is thus proposed, emphasizing evaluation as coinquiry and value creation. The aim is to stimulate learning while simultaneously enriching the vitality of relational process. A wide range of innovations in evaluative practice bring these ideas to life. Detailed illustrations are drawn from both primary and secondary schools, demonstrating how evaluation can foster an engagement in learning and relating. A relational orientation also applies to evaluating teachers and schools. Teacher evaluation is transformed into professional development, while school evaluation becomes a means of building learning communities. A relational shift in evaluation also opens a space for the full flourishing of interactive and dialogic based teaching practices, and more flexible and varied curricula. Such a transformation in education speaks to the demands of a rapidly changing and unpredictable world, in which skills in collaboration are imperative.
• Offers a compelling alternative to the measurement-assessment orientation to evaluation that undermines learning and well-being in schools today
• Is richly illustrated with school-based examples that inspire the possibility of a relational approach to evaluation of students, teachers, and whole schools
• Unites evaluation practices to the dialogic turn in pedagogy and curriculum formation, thus paving the way to a vital transformation in education
• Provides concrete, classroom-rooted practices that can stimulate discussions among school leaders and policy makers
About the Authors
Kenneth J. Gergen is Senior Research Professor in Psychology at Swarthmore College and the President of the Taos Institute.
Scherto R. Gill is Senior Fellow at the GHFP Peace Research Institute, Visiting Fellow at the University of Sussex, and Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts (FRSA).