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First Semester's Inquiries

Howard Hoffman pic h075

Howard Hoffman, On Life: "Never test the depth of a river with both feet."


We are reading and discussing a variety of texts, re-framing the conversation about self-assessment as part of the process of change and innovation in education, and interweaving those conversations with our own teaching experiences.  Our first productive semester of shared learning included inquiries:

  • theorizing new connections between our pedagogical and assessment practices
  • articulating and reconsidering the tensions between our values as educators and the claims of the broader systems of education in which we and our students work
  • interrogating unexamined yet powerful social and institutional norms conditioning our choices and strategies around assessment
  • imagining ways to integrate high standards/expectations/challenge with an equally high respect for complexity and diversity in individuals' lifeways

Two of the most important texts to our inquiry have been Margaret Price's Mad at School, an analysis of the conflicts between academic structures and the experience of learners and teacher with "mental illness," and a recent New Yorker piece by Paul Tough about a new, holistic approach to public health and poverty, that essentially makes education a focal part of "treatment."  Both texts challenged our group to deepen our understandings of the cultural and contextual dimensions of assessment, and of the depth of interdependence, even of interbeing, in individuals' trajectories.


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