Sunday, 31 January 2010

Demanding performance versus ...

When applying for jobs, there is often the question of about what I am aiming to be in the future. What are my performance goals? There is always the assumption that I have some lofty goal related to promotion or more income. There seems to be difficulty with some organisations accepting that I just want to do the job well, to earn enough money to pay the bills, and to enjoy life and relationships.

My goals in life aren't about gaining status or expensive items. Rather, I am interested in ensuring that we have good family relationships and that none of the family is struggling needlessly. A job often enslaves and traps me when I would prefer to be out enjoying creation and all that God has given us.

So often the assumption is that I want to climb the ladder of status. In the research context, this means improve my research ranking. But, and this is a major but, the research that I am interested in doesn't rank highly in the ranking system. Does this mean that it isn't important?

I believe it is very important, if we want to help improve the learning that is happening in my subject area. At one point, I looked at a project that might have helped raise the profile of Computing Education research but what I saw was that this was taking me away from the research that helped foster improved learning into meaningless argument.

In some respects, I see similar things with the assessment practices. The focus can move off learning to being the judge of performance or doing what is going to be assessed. In fact, I see it increasingly shifting to being a judge of performance. I keep asking what is important? Is it really important for the learner to achieve certain performance goals or is it more important that they find and learn about what is really important to them in their life?

In teaching, I find it satisfying when I am able to help students learn what they are interested in and not just what the course demands. I feel satisfied when a student gains a deeper understand or seeks to explore a subject further because it interests them. I would prefer to spend time with an individual working through a problem that they are having difficulty with or that they want to explore further than marking yet another piece of work that the student has put together in the last minute because it was required for assessment.

Yes, I acknowledge there are things that we need to do to be able to live in this world. It takes effort to ensure that food is on the table. The difficulty is that life in our modern world is more about gaining status and abstract and often meaningless goals than it is about enjoying relationships and learning to live together.

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