You don’t fatten a pig by weighing it.
It’s an expression that is heard frequently in the education world, and is a comment on testing for the sake of testing. The purpose of weighing the pig is to see whether it has put on weight, and if so how much. If not, what needs to be done to help the pig put on weight. The act of weighing it alone is not sufficient.
So too with education. Unless you know why you are assessing a student, what you intend to do with the information gained and, most importantly, how this assessment will inform the student of their progress and help them to improve, then the test is worthless.
These progress checks which we are all required to make this year (April, this month, then December) are a form of assessment. To do no more than say “I’ve done nothing” or “I got 50,000 words written” or “I’m half-way through editing” is simply weighing the pig. It’s a meaningless assessment, unless context is given, reasons analysed, and progress explored.
So, the honesty bit. Since my last check-in, I’ve made no progress with my projects, or indeed any writing of my own. I have been writing of course: reports, assessments, critiques of essays, reports on projects at work. But nothing of my own fiction. I miss writing, but I understand why I’ve made no progress. And that is the important reason behind these progress checks, to ensure that we can analyse our progress, and take steps to change the things that aren’t going well.
Despite a rather maudlin post last month, it appears I will be back teaching the students I’ve been working with for the last year, and that my teacher training is back on. That’s a lot of work, more than I’m doing at the moment, and something has to give.
My writing has been what gave this year. With more work to come, more time invested in my students, what else will give? This is what prompted me to make my decision, announced this month, to step down as Managing Editor. When I have a spare moment, if I’m not feeling guilty about not devoting that time to my students, I feel guilty about not using it to work on Write Anything related issues. I don’t invest my own time in my own writing. And I need to change that.
My pig hasn’t gained any weight. But I now know why. Time to fatten it up.