Sunday, February 8, 2015

What if...

Steve Mouldey has been on a what if mission of late. He is constantly asking what if questions. And he is constantly asking his students what if questions. So for today's 28 minutes of writing post, as I sit here supervising and e-ASTTLE test, I'm taking a leaf out of Steve's book. Since I have temporarily run out of things to say, it seems a good idea to just make these things up now don't you think? Here goes...

What if giving students test and exams were illegal?
How would our assessment practices be different? - How would we attempt to validate our judgements of student progress? - Would we still assess as frequently? - Who would be in charge of assessment? NZQA? The Ministry? Schools? - Would we assess the same things? - Would students still seek to validate themselves by a test score or by credit hunting? - Would eliminating tests and moving towards longer term, assignment based work mean that students don't cram, and as a result focus on learning more? -Would there be any negative effects on students and what would they be? - How would teachers cope without tests? - Do tests offer a safety nest for teachers? - Would there be any positive effects on students and what would they be? - Would making exams and tests illegal change which content we focus on? - Would making exams and tests illegal change what our curriculum looks like? - What assessment system would most likely replace tests? - What role would e-portfolios place in a system without tests? - Would assessment practice improve or not if tests and exams were illegal? - How would things be different if only high stakes testing was illegal? - What innovations in student assessment might develop as a result of the increased constraints? - Why do students dislike tests so much? - How could we help students to feel less intimated by tests? - How might we make testing more meaningful? - Who would most likely advocate for making tests illegal? Who would most likely advocate against making tests illegal 
The thing about what if questions is that they allow you to entertain ideas that we might often consider impossible. Yet, when it comes down to it, very few of the ideas that we would like to see take root in education are actually impossible. Challenging to implement perhaps. Uncomfortable. But not impossible. So many of our systems were put into place by people, and for that same reason can be removed by people. It is important that we do not confuse obstacles with limits. The two are very different!

So while we are living in the hypothetical here, do you have a what if question that allows you to think outside the box enough to generate a new education paradigm?