Judging

I just finished the excellent Teaching as a Subversive Activity  by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner tonight. I could probably write twenty posts about different topics in it, but why steal their words? You (any educator or person who cares about education) should read this classic yourself. It is not new but very little of the book is dated. You are probably familiar with many ideas from this book such as the often tweeted/quoted phrases such as “crap detection” and that a “teacher should never ask a question that they know the answer to.” It is radical and contains a lot of pedagogy arguments for a shift in schools but is also highly practical at the same time. The overall focus of the book is shifting to a student-created, open-ended curriculum based on inquiry about things that students care about. It is full of “tweetable” lines, but for this post I want to talk about one topic (I could have chosen dozens).

by Mike Licht

Postman and Weingartner talk about judging in relationship to grading. They recommend keeping track of your negative and positive judgments for a few days to become more aware of how judgmental you are.   “Once we judge someone or something we tend to stop thinking about them or it. Which means, among other things, that we behave in response to our judgments rather than to that which is being judges. People and things are processes. Judgments convert them into fixed states. This is one reason that judgments are commonly self-fulfilling.”

I found these statements so true. Our judgments are final in our own minds and we like to label students. We need to be conscious of this at all times and remember that all of our students are works in progress and that none of them have reached their potential yet and find ways to push them mentally in positive ways daily. I know that I can be a very judgmental person at times in life and I need to keep this habit out of the classroom. I will take their advice and judge every student as a success story waiting to unfold!

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