Shine the light on “educated,” Part 2

Why do educators at all levels say we fail to adequately evaluate our programs? Why is that concern repeated over and over? The answer is right in front of us. The social science improvement paradigm requires that program effectiveness be measured, but measuring effectiveness in ways that are valid and reliable requires time and effort that educators don’t have.

For example, a Positive Behavior Intervention System (PBIS) program could be evaluated for the extent to which it achieved four of the ten desired outcomes listed in Part 1: (1) emotional intelligence, (2) proper conduct, (3) following classroom rules, and (4) appropriate 21st Century citizenship. An evaluation for that one program would require educators to create valid and reliable instruments, administer them, and analyze the results to determine whether their observations of student behavior were caused by PBIS or something else?”

In other words, it is social science paradigm blasphemy to say, we don’t need better program evaluations, but evaluating programs requires too much time and effort. Now that educators believe in the social science paradigm for improving education, their highest value is placed on “effectiveness,” which is always directed at desired outcomes.

But what if educators adopted an aesthetic paradigm for improving education? What if their highest value was placed on beauty? What if all the desired outcomes were reduced to the six virtues of the educated person? What if the six virtues were the unifying philosophical foundation of our systems of education? Then, assessing all programs would require answering just one question — to what extent are students demonstrating the six virtues of the educated person (understanding, imagination, strength, courage, humility, and generosity)?

And the answers would come in many forms — teacher observations, student self-assessments, stories about peer interactions, student-created products, student-teacher relations, and student-peer relations. Think of all the beauty that would be created by these kinds of evaluations. Think of how appreciated students would feel as they found out their teachers and peers recognized that they were developing the six virtues of the educated person.


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