Ivan Illich, in Tools for Conviviality states the following:
Tools are intrinsic to social relationships. An individual relates himself to his society through the use of tools that he actively masters, or by which he is passively acted upon. To the degree that he masters his tools, he can invest the world with his meaning; to the degree that he is mastered by his tools, the shape of the tool determines his self image. Convivial tools are those which give each person who uses them the greatest opportunity to enrich the environment with the fruits of his or her vision.The point about the arts as a means of assessment is a matter of conviviality. To witness the arts as a tool for understanding is to participate in human growth. To attend a performance or demonstration of the arts in schools is an enrichment of community. In comparison, to pass out test scores may inflate the perceived potentials of some and drastically impede the perceived potentials of others. In the case of students in New York City public high schools who received B-level grades, but cannot pass basic placement tests at community colleges, Diane Ravitch said, "We are lying to our children." For many, demoralizaton by low test scores lead parents, and teachers to completely overlook the child's greatest potentials. That may not be criminal but should be.
Can you see that something should be done about this? All during the last 10 years, during both the Bush and Obama administrations, standardized testing has driven school development at the expense of the arts. Let's just cut the crap and get back to what is really important in schools. OK? Restoring the wood shop is the best place to start.
We think of assessment as something to assign to experts, and yet each of us is involved in the continuing assessment of our surroundings. We can tell whether something was done as a matter of care, or as a matter of expedience. For instance, as we stay in a New York apartment, I can't help but notice all the thick layers of paint applied over a half century of renovations. The paint in the photo above was applied layer upon layer, each time to make the place look better, but by never addressing the growing misshapen mass beneath, a display of real painting skill will never emerge. The photo above. What can you say? Is it an illustration of conviviality? The challenge of meaningful assessment is to use what we really know to counter the mis-perceptions of external expertise and then design schools and schooling in which children are allowed to reach their full potentials.