Friday, November 21, 2014

Here be monsters

In the mi(d)st of the background reading for my Masters, I stumbled across an article ( that suggested that the less intelligent you are, the less intelligent you realise you are and, as a result, when asked to adjudge how you have fared in a piece of work, your lack of intelligence leads you to believe that you've got everything right.  Those with a modicum of nous will recognise that they can't possibly have got everything right and so will demonstrate said knowledge by giving themselves less than full marks. 

In the dog eat dog world of primary state education, pupil voice is one of a multitude of buzzwords currently swarming in, on and around every classroom.  Involve them in the planning, the marking, the feedback, running the class, running the school and choosing the headteacher.  As a teacher I can just sit back with my feet up, dunking chocolate Hobnobs (other brands of chocolate coated oaty biscuits are available) into mugs of freshly brewed tea.

Or not.

The fact remains that however much voice we give our charges, the above appears to hold exponentially true for them ... And even for those deemed to be more able.

Self-assessment in the primary classroom - below a certain age, perhaps - is an exercise in futility.  Their naive self-belief is unfathomably brilliant but we shouldn't try and convince ourselves that it's doing anyone any favours.  If they think they've done amazing work then that's great until such time as they get feedback that underscores their entirely understandable mediocrity.  Is that of their peers any more valid?  I'd be inclined to say no; it's as unintentionally misguided as their own and similarly blind to said mediocrity.

Should we celebrate mediocrity?  Of course not but I think that there's a threat that, at times, we do.  All with the best intentions, of course: the hallowed Grail of increased self-esteem and/or confidence.  As mentioned herein - - monsters lurk in the shallows of well-meaning praise; the depths are a different matter entirely in this world of ever increasing accountability.

I'll continue to seek the assessment views of my class as I'm hoping that practice, on their part, makes perfect, but I'm not going to be holding my breath or basing any judgements on what they tell me.

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