Thursday, July 30, 2015

Thoughts on Vacation: Is Anything Truly Summative?

This summer, our family had the opportunity to spend time in the Andalusia region of Spain on our vacation. We visited Granada, where we toured the Alhambra as well as the Cathedral of the Incarnation. I was struck by the beauty of both of these architectural marvels as well as the cultural differences in design represented. It also struck me at how many years each took to build, and how even today, the structures are being updated, refurbished and added to. Some of the techniques used to preserve the structures 100 years ago were found to actually cause damage, and were being updated with the latest advances in preservation.


Cathedral of the Incarnation

These buildings were truly "works of art," and a testament to the people who designed and built them, and to those who continue to maintain them. 

On the last day of our trip, we toured the Pablo Picasso Museum in Malaga. In one of the rooms, there was a quote from the painter that gave me pause...
“To finish a work? To finish a picture? What nonsense! To finish it means to be through with it, to kill it, to rid it of its soul, to give it its final blow the coup de grace for the painter as well as for the picture.”  
-Pablo Picasso
It got me to thinking about assessment in schools today. Summative assessment is often defined as "at the conclusion of instruction/learning." How often do our assessments kill our student's love of learning about a subject, or rid THEM of their soul?" What if, much like the buildings I saw that have been "under construction" for hundreds of years, we thought of ALL assessment as formative, and allowed children to continue to grow and build on their understanding of a topic? 

Just something I thought about while on vacation...

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