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Noticing; the first step to a learning organization

Five years ago I suggested that those who teach will not test:

  • Anyone who teaches is not allowed to test.
  • Those who design the tests are answerable to those who learn and those who teach.
  • Those who teach are only responsible to those who learn and are subjected to tests.

Keith Lyons points out some more fundamental questions about the efficacy of providing feedback:

Royce [Sadler] observed that “feedback is about telling … that is the problem”. He discussed this dilemma and noted its roots in the transmission model of education. He proposed an alternative model in which teachers were the bridge in students’ journeys from what they know to incorporating information they did not know to develop their knowledge.

Directed feedback and assessment keep learners in a dependent situation whereas the real aim should be to get learners to notice their own progress.

Royce argued that ‘traditional’ assessment practices require the assessor to judge a problem, repair the response and give advice. Yet these are a student’s responsibility.  He argued forcefully that Noticing is a key to student flourishing.

My observations are that trades or craft schools often get students to notice their own progress but this is lacking in general education and corporate training. There is still a culture of dependence, stemming from early school years and copied by so many training and educational bodies:

The fifth lesson I teach is intellectual dependency.  Good people wait for a teacher to tell them what to do.  It is the most important lesson, that we must wait for other people, better trained than ourselves, to make the meanings of our lives.  The expert makes all the important choices; only I can determine what you must study, or rather, only the people who pay me can make those decisions which I enforce.

Shifting from external to internal assessment reinforces what we already know about social learning from Albert Bandura:

“Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do. Fortunately, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action.”

Self-ownership of our learning, taking responsibility for our mistakes, all in a collaborative work environment that helps us learn socially – these are the hallmarks of a real learning organization.


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