Thursday, December 22, 2011

Random thought : Badges and assesment

Lots can go wrong in baseball...

Lots can go right. A game within a game - subtle interplay between players, teams, leagues, sponsors, fans, the field, the stadium, on and on... I love it. It's the rich variety of life. Only people uninterested or uncreative (dull, deadened,...) only look at the score and think that's all that happened.

As I re-connect with sport, I integrated it with my past experience. My experience with youth sports was not extensive, but ... let's call it "small but mighty". I was on winning teams and( mostly) losing teams. Perhaps because of this, I was told - and mostly remember - the sage statement, "It's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game".

I took this to heart. And, looking at the way things are today, I don't think many others did. See, my point is that I don't play for the score in games. I don't learn for grades in life.

Why? because the score was so flat. The score doesn't really tell you what happened. It does serve a purpose - I'm not a fucking hippie! (hehe - eat it hippies) God bless the score and the horse it rode in on... but there is so much more.

Baseball is a good example here. The stats in baseball are extensive. A line score, a box score, and then, I guess, there is the stat book that looks at every stinking play - and converts it to numbers.

Should schools do these? There is the final grade. There is the weekly quiz score and project / exam / paper scores. These are experiences translated into numbers for the purpose of fitting a machine readable format - the sorting function of grades.

But how do you translate getting hit in the face with the baseball into a score - 'Hit by pitch' doesn't do it justice. Do you really think you can sum up the trauma of dropping the last out as an 'error' or bottom of the ninth strike out to lose the championship as "strikeout".

Same is true of schooling. My '89' on my math test, because I forgot to 'carry the one' which caused me to miss the A by one percentage point. That number doesn't begin to describe or communicate that experience to others.

But, Badges can.

Badges are not grades. They can be used right along side grades. The guy in the picture could get the "Hit by Pitch - EPIC" badge, along with the stat in the book. Possibly there is a modifier ribbon to go along with the badge "broken bone", "bleeding on the field", "crapping your pants", "crying on the field"...

Badges allow for creativity to rush back into the classroom. All of a sudden, you can nurture the dry phrase "it's not whether you win or lose...". A badge describes, qualitatively perhaps, HOW you play the game. And, when students create and give badges, it shifts the balance of power back to the student.

One last thought - What does it say about the worldview of someone you creates the system of grades? How clincial, sterile the world must be for that person? 4 months of work in a college classroom and the only 'real' result is two exam grades and a final score.They see the world as industry and factory.  I see the world as wilderness and a workshop.

Grades are a currency and we have confused the currency for the thing we want.  You don't want money - You want a house or a car or knowledge or skill. Perhaps this is the monster of materialism stomping around every aspect of modern life. 


And, this is what I think about. I've decided that I should share these thoughts. I'm no longer a young adult. I've arrived at 'Grown ass man" status. These thoughts are my own - however they arrived in my brain, I can't really say, but I feel it's important to share them with you, dear reader.