The Politics and “Business” of learning, Part 2

>Here’s the second installment of some posts to my Assessment & Evaluation learners.

Small-p politics is a always such a meaty subject and one that can sometimes become polarizing. So, I’m relieved on two fronts: first, that there’s a real richness of commentary here; and, two, that the polarization seems to be almost non-existent. However, there are some additional things I’d like you to consider before this phase of the discussion wraps up.

[name]’s article from the Ottawa Citizen does illustrate one potentially disturbing trend in some sectors of the public education system, and that is ‘entitlement’. While one is entitled to an education (by law, in most cases) one is not entitled to a false assessment of one’s success. (In simpler terms, “if you want it, you gotta work for it”.) Indeed, I’m rather disturbed by the implication of an education system that seems to feel that a “negotiated” pass is more effective in the long run than learning from one’s failure. I see parallels in some youth sports where the philosophy is “we don’t keep score, and there’s no winner or loser.”

So consider this as you continue this discussion: What’s the impact on the learner when the assessment and evaluation framework can be rendered null through negotiation and false entitlement? What happens to them when the “really” fail at something? Or…in more practical terms, would you want your heart surgeon to be someone who had Mom & Dad go to bat for him/her when they didn’t get a pass score in Anatomy 101 and thus scraped through Med School? Or would you want the confidence of knowing there’s some real rigour behind their lengthy training?

Now, let’s extend this discussion to workplace learning and we can consider formal and informal situations. What happens to the learner or the organization where compliance is an issue, and pass rates are forced upon the educator or assessor? Or, what happens when a peer coach doesn’t like telling someone they’re wrong about an interpretation of a key skill? Can you think of situations where this could have longer-term consequences?

While the learning content provided for your major project doesn’t have immediate life-or-death implications, consider the impact of the failure to meet outcomes. How do you support someone to “get there” and feel they have succeeded?

So, you’ve all hit on the nastiness of “politics” in learning. The question is: what are you going to do about it?


About Mark L. Sheppard

learning geek, lifelong learner, terminally curious, recovering blogger and Ed Tech explorer.

Posted on March 21, 2011, in commentary, evaluation, instructor re-post, learning, politics. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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