Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Isn't "certification" a form of "evaluation" ?

From: Scott David Gray <>
Date: Sun Oct 30 08:51:01 2005

Scott Gray, from the Sudbury Valley School, here.

  Evaluations are made all of the time at our school.

  When staff elections take place, staff are evaluated for
their posts.
  When elections for specific School Meeting posts take
place, candidates are evaluated for those posts.
  When a person is being certified for the microwave in
school, an evaluation is taking place to determine whether
or not the person can use the equipment in a way that is
safe (for the equipment and others).
  When a person is being certified for the computers in
school, an evaluation is taking place to determine whether
or not the person can use the equipment in a way that is
safe (for the equipment and others).

  There is a difference between licensing a person and
ranking a person.

  I'm happy that in order to be able to act as a public
defender in Massachusetts, a person is evaluated by means of
the bar exam.
  I'm happy that in order to drive a car, a person has to be
evaluated on her/his ability to drive a car.
  I'm happy that when I employ a person, it is considered
socially acceptable for me to try and choose between
candidates, rather than giving the job out on a first-come
first-serve basis.
  These are all examples of evaluations *for* a specific
task, that are requested by the person seeking to *do* that
task; whether that task is a specific job or role, or the
ability to use particular pieces of equipment that may
endanger the public good if used poorly.

  Grades are a different matter entirely.
  The review is rarely sought.
  In the end, performing well on your match / history /
French quiz doesn't credential you for anything that
actually preserves the public good, Instead, such tests are
used as a means to rank people as *people*.

  An evaluation for the *sake* of evaluating or ranking is
wrong. A person who is certified for the wood shop at a
Sudbury school isn't considered an innately better or worse
person than a person who isn't.
  But in a traditional school, the person who aces all of
her/his tests *is* considered a better person, and the
evaluations aren't done to protect people or property but
for the person's "own good."

  In the end, these peculiarities show up the limitation of
language. Each word is used by each person in a different
way, in each context. And so, yes, 'certification' is a form
of 'evaluation;' and Sudbury schools argue against arbitrary
evaluation, sometimes shortening the term 'arbitrary
evaluation' to the handy one-word term 'evaluation' or
  The key isn't the word. It is what is being said. That is
why listening is an art. Because, in fact, understanding
what another person is saying *isn't* only a matter of
knowing what each word means. It also is a matter of knowing
the range of meanings for each word or phrase or intonation
used *in*that*context* by the person or people speaking. On
Sun, 30 Oct 2005, David Rovner wrote:

> Isn't "certification" a form of "evaluation" ?
> ~ David

--Scott David Gray
reply to:
Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our
intelligence by means of language.
-- Ludwig Wittgenstein
Received on Sun Oct 30 2005 - 08:49:23 EST

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