I had a long drive home from an assessment session yesterday, and I was reflecting on some of the conversations we had. We talked about how some teachers justify strange assessment practices because they sincerely believe that they are helping prepare their students for the real world.
It occurred to me that this view of our role in preparing students for life after school treats the real world like a minimum wage job at a fast food restaurant. This view of the real world values things like showing up on time, having a great attitude, and working hard. Those are admirable qualities in the guy who serves me my curly fries. They should have nothing to do with my assessment of students’ mathematical abilities.
A better view of our role in preparing kids for the real world would be to treat the real world like a contract job. This view of the real world values things like taking responsibility to finish what you start, taking as long as you need to do the job right, seeking help from others when needed, and producing good work every time. These are great qualities in the guy who designs the bridge I drive across every day. These are the things I should be encouraging in my students, and should be reflected in my assessment practices.