In autumn of 2006, I unknowingly first walked by a future mentor in a hallway in midtown Manhattan. I was seventeen, and I was touring the liberal arts college that would soon become home for four years. The woman who walked past me was a small, dark-haired European professor, and someday she would become a beloved pedagogical mother to me. This friendship bloomed right after undergrad, when I became a teacher at her daughters’ school.
In part one of this series we looked at relationship as a prerequisite to assessment. In his book Norms and Nobility, David Hicks says “Knowledge – the activity of learning – gives teacher and student a common ground for friendship – while accentuating their unequal status.” This friendship, whether between parent and child, teacher and student, or mentor and apprentice, can offer a rich environment for the cultivation of knowledge and skills, and ultimately wisdom and virtue.
Part 2: Response - The Expectations During Assessment
When I first began teaching other people’s children, the thought of assessing their work filled me with no small amount of dread. Even back then, when it was simply known as “grading”, I became anxious at the thought of telling others that their work had, or had not, met the standard. Why oh why hadn’t I decided to teach math? You either get it right or you don’t. Yes or no. Correct or incorrect. Vainly I searched for encouragement from other Language Arts teachers. The advice ranged from the humorous (“Throw the papers on the stairs.