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Grades: evaluation without context

Malcolm Gladwell is busy promoting his new book the systemic (sometimes circumstantial) causes for success – Outliers. He carries this focus into an article: Most likely to succeed: “There are certain jobs where almost nothing you can learn about candidates before they start predicts how they’ll do once they’re hired. So how do we know whom to choose in cases like that? In recent years, a number of fields have begun to wrestle with this problem, but none with such profound social consequences as the profession of teaching.”
There are many angles to consider in the article as Gladwell runs a parallel discussion of teacher success and quarterback success. I found the discussion of the limitations of tradition metrics most valuable (p. 5). We simply do not know who will be a good teacher by the ways we currently measure. Grades are essentially evaluation without context. The process of ‘becoming’ a teacher (or carpenter, plumber, or doctor) requires activities – and evaluation – to be situated in a real context.

One Comment

  1. Vit Pimenov wrote:

    Completely agree.
    I think there is a very complex problem. And one part of it is the context.

    There is a context of evaluation and activities indeed, but this context is now out of date. This old context, which roots are to be found in XIX century, became very unnatural in present days, and it is very natural process, frankly.

    I think, that’s why we see today that graduation has become a single purpose of education instead of becoming a true master. It is too hard to become a master and graduate well at the same time. Most of us choose the easy way.

    Friday, December 19, 2008 at 4:34 pm | Permalink