#45: Watching our Kids Too Closely

Eyes

Do we have an evaluative gaze in schools?

In this episode, Bruce and I discuss a powerful essay written by Carol Black titled Children, Learning, and the Evaluative Gaze of School, one that discusses the very real effects on kids of a culture of surveillance and assessment. Some of the questions we kick around:

  • Why have we gotten to this point where we want to monitor and assess every mood and movement of kids?
  • How do we provide more of a balance for students between their school and personal lives?
  • How do we break out of traditional narratives and habits to start with a different question?
  • How do we start with the question “Is this good for kids?”
  • How do we start a process for bringing people together to hold different conversations around our interactions with kids?

We also chat about some first steps that school leaders might take to create some new conversations forward in their communities.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

Posted in ,

Will Richardson

Co-founder of Modernlearners.com and Change School. Author, speaker, instigator, surfcaster, husband, and father to two amazing young adults.

Comments

  1. That is what anecdotal records are all about. It is a baggage children unknowingly carry throughout their school lives. What if we address the issue and its cause more than noting down what is wrong.? We need counsellors trained as life coaches in schools more than anywhere else.

  2. I agree with everything you guys are saying. So here’s the thing, the system is like a photocopier that keeps recreating itself. It seems the majority of people/ teachers who are attracted to and remain in teaching are those who are mostly happy to keep the status quo. Most of those with alternative views will be crushed and leave the profession. Parents and politicians have hijacked schools and both parties are more anxious than ever. If universities and employers stop using school grades as a way of assessing the suitability of applicants then we will see a shift in what schools do. People like Todd Sampson a CEO are letting it be known that they are looking for other things from their applicants, he asks them, “ what have you done in your life that has made a difference to others?”
    Maybe that’s a good place to start.

  3. Thank you. THANK YOU. I read (and shared) the “evaluative gaze” essay by Carol Black earlier this school year after finding it here on your FB page, and no single piece of writing has changed me (for the good / positive) more than this article, and this phrase. The way I teach & reach kids (my own children and my students) has changed so powerfully since I’ve lodged that phrase — “evaluative gaze” — into my brain and refer back to it constantly when I interact with kids. Everything around this idea of “watching kids too closely” resonates with me, and with how I’ve tried to ”be” around all the dozens (no, the hundreds!) of kids in my life over my many years. TRIED is the operative word here. Not until I read this essay did I have the two simple words I needed (evaluative gaze) to rage against, for the good of kids. I look at, or talk with, or get ready now to “check” a kid and the “evaluative gaze” neon sign goes off in my brain and I’m able to pause, and modify how and what I say and do with that kid. So that hopefully, they feel me watching & observing them with my LOVING, encouraging gaze, and not my EVALUATIVE one. I read a lot, A LOT a lot, but have never written a lengthy “review” of a piece of writing until today, here. Thank you to the author of the essay, and to Modern Learners FB here for sharing it! From, a grateful (mom and) educator.

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