Thursday, September 13, 2012

Food for Thought: Quick Snaphots

These were snapshot thoughts I posted in Facebook - about a month apart.
 It's a reflection of assessment... as we got pigeonholed into the everyday routines which is coupled with other external pressures, sometimes we forget the objective and intent of some things we do. Of course, this pressure could be due to an individual's desire to shape or mould some "desired" outcomes, which might be of an individual or the organisation's interest (depending on which perspective we see it).

Ultimately, it goes back to the "why"... why do we assess? 
I think it's only when we are clear about the 'motive' of assessment, then it would only be clear to our 'subjects' (i.e. students) who are going to be assessed by us.

Look inward and ask ourselves - all of us (adults) had worked through so many exams and tests in those years, which was the first 'hurdle' to cross before stepping into our adulthood. Have we wonder why do we have to go through all those exams?

I must admit that I was not very reflective in my younger days. Ok, sometimes I would like to blame it on the system that I was brought up. I knew that I should just follow and it should not go wrong. I did not question. It's been planned. So, don't bother to argue. That was the mentality. Of course, thankful to the maturity developed over the years, and with several good mentors, I grew to become more reflective and started asking questions (within and only heard by myself), though might not voice it out (you know what I mean?).
I guess, that's growing up.

My thinking (in those school days) was just paper chasing... and we simply need that certification fr survival. Looking back, it's sad. Isn't it? I think that comes with the fact that in those good old days, my parents have been enforcing that fact that we have to study hard so that we could secure a job for a better living. Yes, the background and context matters! and it shapes the way I think. Similarly, in school, we seldom heard teachers emphasized the importance of understanding. Instead, it's about passing the tests and exams, and for certain subjects, we knew that the teachers had pinned high hope on some of us being the top performing student in their subject. Hm... think from a more selfish angle, so that they could 'show-off' to their peers that they had developed the top student? Hm... (of course, this thought is one-sided 'cos I've never, and would never had the chance to verify with them).
How often did our teacher got us thinking about the importance of understanding what's thought and the relevance and usefulness of what I were to learn (for the exam?)? Maybe some of the teachers did, but I did not pay attention to it when they emphasized?

I think it was a good start when I was first enrolled into the NIE - my step into the Teacherhood. The model of assessment opened up the idea why students have to be assessed. The objectives, the purpose, the why! This had provided answers to many questions that I had not even asked myself. Nevertheless, all these notions disappeared into the thin air when we were so caught up with the activities in the schools, especially when we had a syllabus to complete given a certain timeframe. There, we were there to assess students for the stake of making sure they learnt what's required in the exam. Hardly, we question again, the ultimate purpose of assessment - though broadly we know it's about their understanding. I believe many of us had not really sit down to think through very deeply when we set the tests and crafting the questions. I think, the thinking bit would come in, however, translating it into action is another story. Because the emphasis has most of the time focus on the what to test... and forget to keep in mind - the learners who would be assessed.

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