One of my eleven summer reading books is Cathy Davidson's tome, Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn. Davidson offers a powerful and compelling narrative for us to re-consider how we do school, something this blog treats regularly.
Although I've not finished it just yet, I found the following quote to be powerful, perhaps because it is such a cogent statement for all that we read on Twitter, in blogs, in general educational literature, and what we hear at conferences:
"That is the glistening paradox of great education: It is not about answering test questions. It is about knowing that, when tested by the most grueling challenges ahead, you have the capacity to learn what is required to succeed" (85).
Shortly afterward, she states, "Put those kids [a group she had identified] in a lecture hall, give them a standardized curriculum with standardized forms of measuring achievement and ability, and they learn a different lesson. They might well master what they are supposed to learn, but that's not education. When you think of learning as something external to yourself, learning becomes a levy--an assessment, not an asset. The assessment no longer matters after the schooling stops. The asset is a resource one draws on for a lifetime" (86).
Her clarification of assessment versus asset really struck a chord in me.
I'm spending much of my summer considering how to transform my section of 9th grade history into a project-based learning class. That is no small feat, in case you're wondering. Central to this transformation is my own need to attend to assessment versus asset. I want the kids to have the asset, every time. I just need to figure out a way to get them there, while allowing for a way to measure their progress that can be translated into a meaningful grade, since we are still wedded to grades.