Of Rubrics and Helicopters

Steven Conn has stirred up quite conversation over at the _Chronicle of Higher Education_ with [“The Rise of the Helicopter Teacher”][sc]. I am sympathetic to his sense that we are awash in rubrics, but I think many of the commenters are correct that it is not an untoward moment in education when students are better aware of the criteria by which they will be judged. (If only life itself were like that, eh?) There is hope, I guess, that the pendulum will swing at some point toward a moderate middle within which students and teachers can have both more freedom to play but also have a sense of clarity about any grading coming out of the interaction.

It is, I should note, the tendency toward driving out play that rubrics, and their all too common accompanists, standardized testing, to which I object. Regular readers will know that I have complained before about the nature of education at my daughter’s school, which is so driven by students achieving certain competencies by a certain date in the spring semester that there seems like there is less room for fun than one might hope in what is considered a gifted and talented environment — hers is not a G&T school per se, but rather a private school that, I think, claims to be steeped in G&T approaches and ideas. (I can’t say for sure because the more I get to know about educational theories and rhetorics, the less I understand them.)

I don’t have much more to say on the subject, except to make note of a side comment by one of the commenters to Conn’s post. It got a hearty, “Tell it!” from me:

> Moreover, many students bring pre and misconceptions about their classes with them: eg: reading literature is an act of decoding or that science gives them right answers.

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