Monday, January 27, 2014

MeasurementFolly



I have repeatedly spoken and written about the folly of errant measurement, especially when it comes to education.  Here is one example of my thinking.

Seth Godin draws a similar and convincing conclusion in this recent blog post on measuring what truly has meaning.

Senge, et al, (2005) argue that “the most important data is often the hardest to measure.”
Not only does over-reliance on measurement doom modern society to continuing to see a world of things rather than relationships, it also gives rise to the familiar dichotomy of the ‘hard stuff’ (what can be measured) versus the ‘soft stuff’ (what can’t be measured).  If what’s measurable is ‘more real’, it’s easy to relegate the soft stuff, such as the quality of interpersonal relationships and people’s sense of purpose in their work, to a secondary status. This is ironic because the soft stuff is often the hardest to do well and the primary determinant of success or failure.”  (Bold text is my embellishment).                                                     

In education, yes, we should measure student progress and learning in relation to academic content.  However, we should STOP ranking students, teachers, and schools primarily on those metrics.  If our goal is to equip children to live happy and productive lives as responsible citizens, we have to understand that there is so much more that we must teach them, stuff that is actually more important than the academic content.  


And those immensely important elements (see the Guthrie Graduate Profile) defy simplistic attempts at measurement. 

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