Text of my talk on Assessment

Text of my talk on Assessment

Posted on: Fri, 10/30/2020 - 17:04 By: admin

Hello, everyone, I would like to thanks, Creatnet team (CT) for this opportunity, In the era of corporate liberalism, working for the public education is like swimming against the stream. I would congratulate CT for this endeavour. I would also like to thanks the audience for coming here and listening to us, otherwise who listen to the teachers and particularly government school teachers.


Anyway, coming back to the agenda, I have a query, can I find someone, who hasn’t been to school? Perhaps not, I cannot find this at least here. Well, you all have been to school, you might have seen the two most important species of the school i.e students and teachers. What do they do? There is a high probability that you would find them busy doing some work.
In a typical classroom setting, you find students˙either writing something on the notebook, or reading, you find the teacher teaching some lesson.
If you question the students that what are you doing? he/she would reply, that teacher has given this work, or I am learning so that I can perform well in the exam, or I am completing the notebook work, this is going to be checked by the principal next day. If you ask the teacher about the work he/she is doing, the answer might be that can’t you see, I am teaching a lesson if you probe further why? The answer would be because this is the part of the syllabus.

This is the state of affairs we have become the machine who is not questioning the larger meaning behind the work we do. This leads to the frustration and we often complains that our work has become monotonous. If you ask a student to write a few sentences on the tree, the answer is that sir, I haven’t memorised the answer.

What we do very efficiently, yes, we guide our students to excel in the exam, we know all sorts of technique, we suggest them different methods of learning
Like, write and learn, learn in the early morning, take sips of cold water while learning something, etc. we have become technician from the teacher.

School is perhaps the only place where you find people engaged in the work without knowing the meaning, in rest part of our life, we work very intelligently, even a small kid change the channel if the content doesn’t fit his/her needs

There is the need to look our work in the larger perspective, each one of us needs to ask the question that why do we do the work? What would be the impact of the work?
The challenge is not new. The root goes back to our colonial past. The modern school is the institution of the colonial era. The purpose of schooling was to create a group of people who would support the British administration in India. They designed the system beautifully, to meet their objectives. There are written evidence which show that assessment policy was to limit the academic growth of a person. The students were failed deliberately so that they can not avail a degree and can not claim for a job. It’s been more than 65 years, we are the part of the independent country, the objectives to be achieved through the education is different,but our approach is still colonial. I read somewhere that the government is going to change the laws made in the colonial era, I am still waiting to hear from someone that when are we going to change our colonial attitude of assessment.

We often blame the system for all these scenarios. We need to question it. Who makes the system. It’s true system influence us, on the other hand, this is also true that we influence the system. I think that each individual has the capacity to influence and subsequently change the system, this is how the change occurs. After all, it’s the individual who creates the system.
There is always a space of negotiation between the dictate of the system and the working of the individual. In a different context, we all might have used it. Here is the example that how I do use it.
Content created by students lead to the discussion in the classroom in class 10th.
This class is with me for last 2 years. Students are asked to write a page on daily basis. They can write on the topic of their choice. The variety of content I get on daily basis. I connect the content written by the students to the content of the chapter. There is a link between what students have written and what is taught through the textbook this has enabled the students to own the content of the chapter. I am surprised to see the critical understanding some students have developed through this writing practice. Sometimes, I myself do not believe that my students can write in this way. This practice has also helped me to break the stereotype I had about the students. Generally, few students catch the attention of the teacher through their overt personality. I have found that the students whom I found ordinary in the class as I found them often silent have such a beautiful thought process. Sometimes, I don t believe, I try to suspend my stereotype and believe in the work of the students. It’s mesmerizing.

We have an assessment practice in our school. That is popularly known as UT ( Unit Test). Generally,it is ensured that all the students of a particular class attempt the same UT. I tried to modify it a bit. I designed the questions which students could write at their home. They were also surprised as they are not used to it. They parents also questioned that which kind of UT is this? Later, my students shared that this was for the 1st time that we were helpless while writing the answers. We couldn’t find the answer in any book or support material.
Questions were
Record and analyse the gossip about other religion in your family, friends or neighbours
Share your own experiences of gender discrimination. etc.

There is a general proverb you would hear from parents and teachers that ¨ Aaj kal to bachcho ko exam se dar hi nahi late hai ¨ ( Children are not afraid of examination) we are much concerned about it. We want that fear to come back. As if this the guarantee of good learning. I have heard CBSE chairman has commented that he would bring back the board for class 10th. We are gearing up for the draconian system once again, this is definitely a repressive step. What does this DARANA mean? This is perhaps the best example of the colonial mindset.

Nowadays, there is a growing tendency of standardised test. We are claiming to be more objective. This limits the choice of the students. At one hand we also believe in the individual difference of the students and on the other hands we force all the students to appear for the same examination. This Mac Donald model of assessment is ruining the growth of our students. We need to hold the high standard of performance of our students but not the standardisation.
We are the part of a democratic society and through education, we strive to attain certain democratic principles. That is equity, justice, liberty,etc. Don´t we need to reflect that how our assessment system is helping us to achieve these Principles? If not there is the need for a change,
We need to adopt the idea of assessing to assist. Where one loves to be assessed but hate to be categorised.