Archive for May, 2012

So False So Look Away

May 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Pundits speak in hyperbole. False claims, exaggerated facts and the convenient “error of fundamental attribution” make Sunday morning politi-shows less viable sources of info and more media circus. Watch closely and you’ll see pundits smashing pundits as their bumper car claims directly clash with each other. For some, it’s all too much. The tiny stage becomes so cluttered with fakery that the weaker panelists start to reveal their insincerity via physical ducks and dives.

Note the pundit who looks away, whose face can’t bear the stream of b.s. emanating from a proximal pundit. It’s a funny site to see: one individual grinning and chin diving as a statement is delivered. These moments are our tiny glimpses into the circus as it happens- pay close attention and your suspicions of the game are confirmed. These are critical moments: the only time when a viewer can cast away doubts that the show is “real reality” and not the swath of silliness that it is. With the break down of the pundit we find safe harbor for sanity.

Watch closely for the signs of truth disclosed: diving chins, rising grins, or, perhaps most common, a soft laughter and bobbing body as another pundit speaks. Delivered as reactions, these unintended moves communicate the true message: the hidden beliefs of the speaker and inherent sense of truth being felt by each and every viewer. Break character on Sunday pundit TV and help us understand how fake the show is. Break down and show me that its all a big game, that all of the words being sewn together are just as I suspect: a blanket of filth. I think the cloth is lousy but its hard to tell sometimes. The pundits want to sew the cloth together and try their best, but, for our sake, no matter how great the effort their physical existence cannot allow such insanity to exist. While the pundit’s mind may work to cobble together new realities, their physical existence refuses the act and breaks down. Let’s pause and be thankful for unintended movements and the gentle kiss of twitchy signs of truth.

One Mean Evaluation

May 14, 2012 Leave a comment

For some, it is fair to evaluate performance on the basis of distant or even unrelated factors. A chef’s personal take on macaroni succeeds only if customers buy more. Fans rejecting the team’s new uniform express power via their indirect, though crucial, point of view. Despite their distance, these factors are the end of the line in the decision making process.In these cases the target is the final say and determinant of success.

Do we fire the weather anchor whose forecasts miss the mark? He said it would rain and it didn’t. Do we fire the novice? How do we evaluate this performance?

For others, like the weather anchor, it is not fair to evaluate performance on the basis of another. In these cases the work involves highly variable factors. The weather changes constantly- is it beyond human capability to pin its behavior down? Is an attempt to do so a fool’s game or sign of vaulting hubris?

Just as firing a weather anchor on the basis of forecast accuracy is absurd, firing an educator on student performance boggles the mind. In these cases success is difficult to measure: means of evaluation are slippery when working with highly variable items or abstract concepts. Can we really predict the weather? Is a student’s learning truly measurable?

In these situations a realistic mode of evaluation must be implemented. Evaluation must occur, that is beyond debate, but a clear understanding of the inherent variables must be considered. Weather prediction involves highly variable factors; therefore, quality weather forecasting is not a game of perfection. Instead, one’s relative accuracy must be employed. Likewise, the forecaster whose predictions wildly miss the mark or historically display a high level of inaccuracy warrant deeper consideration. This is evaluation with brains, a mode of consideration that recognizes the activity being considered and pursues an evaluative tool with this in mind.

The evaluation of teachers should include details of student performance. Student growth the most important function of a teacher and any viable method of evaluation considers such growth. It is not central, though, and a teacher’s performance is far more complicated than a single point of evaluation. Limiting evaluations to this factor is insulting to the students whose complexities it disregards and the learning process as a whole.


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