Wednesday, December 14, 2016

on the use of rubriks

Yesterday  I received the following comment of particular interest, and it is related to a dream I had in the night.
You've written before about "artificial learning environments," but I would be careful about "artificial assessment tools." I would consider a rubric to be that.

When people go to buy a good or service in the world, they generally do not pull out a rubric and calculate a score. They make a judgement as to whether a purchase provides enough value for the money.

For example, if you were to make a wooden chair for me, I would not grade it on a rubric. I would look it over, try it out, and see if I felt I got sufficient value for the money paid.

This type of assessment is more real-world, and therefore it might fit better within your theme of real-world learning environments.
In my dream... I was talking design and someone insisted that it was best to rip wide boards down into thinner stock so the grain could be alternately flipped and that would allow the stock to remain flat. That can make sense if you are making cutting boards. Aside form the addition work involved, there are two problems I pointed out.The first is that you've introduced several glue joints that could fail, but more importantly, you've taken wood that is wide and beautiful and made it less so.

A rubrik can  be a way of getting students to look reflectively at their own work, and to understand more clearly what the teacher is looking for in his or her assessment of it. In an ideal world, students in school would simply do marvelous things, having been allowed and encouraged to do so, and adults would be observers, encouragers and empowerers of such real engagement. The children themselves and their community would assess the results in real effect.

On the hypothetical chair, I suggest that a rubrik already exists in the form of an idealized chair in the mind of the person who ordered it, and in its maker. Both of whom would assess its value based on a range of objectives, including comfort, look, finish, strength, each of which play into an overall assessment of it and its value. So, its not enough to simply do the work, but we must learn to reflect on its value. So in the woodshop, we have conversations about how things turn out. And fortunately, I am not required to submit grades on student performance. Grading is a number one culprit in artificializing a learning environment.

The image above shows the pride of a Finnish sailor. If you care about your boat (and about yourself), even the placement of lines is intended to show that care, and a sailor might not leave the boat without telling others a few things about him or her self.

We do not live in that ideal world, but we can be aiming in that direction.

Make, fix, create and extend toward others, the likelihood of learning likewise.

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