Another dot in the blogosphere?

Easy to measure, but…

Posted on: October 9, 2020


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At the 1min 26sec mark of his video, John Green declared: What is easy to measure is not always what is important.

What is easy to measure is not always what is important. -- John Green

He said this as he reflected on his and his brother’s success in YouTube. That is, if you measure success by large YouTube subscriptions.

But Green pointed out that numbers weren’t everything. He realised that even as numbers grew, it “decreased the sense of community and connectedness”. How so? As he read and analysed his YouTube comments, he discovered more division and unpleasantness.

I would apply the quote to most forms of current assessment. Such tests are the low-hanging fruit of schooling — they are used to sort young people and provide a perception of quality control.

Most forms of current assessment, particularly the summative form, only measure cognitive outcomes. Furthermore, a test is largely a measure how well students are able to take tests, not actually apply knowledge meaningfully.

Most current forms of assessment avoid difficult but important measures like character or the ability to communicate convincingly. If there is an axiom that has stood the test of time, it is this: Anything worth doing is difficult. These are important in the long run, but we foolishly take shortcuts because they are easy.

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