Artifacts vs. art, product vs. process
Assessment is not a spreadsheet -- it's a conversation.
– Joe Bower, for the love of learning
One of the many benefits to teaching string games is the obvious way we can see and experience the difference between process and product in learning. We can assess directly the outcome of our teaching, “Has the student mastered the figure?” through their demonstration of the process of successfully producing a particular string figure. There is no product, per se, there’s only the shared experience of the student demonstrating and the teacher witnessing. The figure was observable, momentarily, and then it was gone.
Absent a video or photographic record,
or some crude (or elegant) “pin-down”
of the figure onto a piece of paper, there is no artifact to the learning. Requiring that there be such, in the real world, is of use only to a third party. Between the teacher and the student, the experience of demonstrating a learned process and having it witnessed is all that each needs to be confident they can go to the next step in this student’s learning journey.
This is the essence of a student-centered approach to learning, and an essential realization if we are to acknowledge and rectify the imbalance in so many schools today, where almost all attention is on pedagogy--on what teachers do and say and present--and little meaningful attention is given to mathetics, the study of how children learn, what they are actually doing as they process their own skill and knowledge expansion, what meanings they give to those acquisitions, what use they can give now to their new skills and knowledge, how they can work together with their class- and school-mates as they relate their growth to the real world in which they live.