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In Search of a Just Assessment

I was over at Mystie’s amazing blog, where I came across this quotation under a link to our earlier post about education for slavery.

Tests are for slaves; an alternative would be the medieval (and Charlotte Mason) practice of examinations.

Then I tried to find a way in Mystie’s blog to contact her because this is something I need to learn more about. It could be one of the most important keys to taking classical education to the next stage of renewal.

I’m not exagerrating. Apart from the spirit of sloth and faint-heartedness that leads us all into every manner of disorderliness of soul, body, and society, nothing creates more of an obstacle to a genuine cultural, Christian, and classical renascence than modern means of assessment.

Whoever assesses you is your boss. Never forget that. If the means of assessment are rooted in a different worldview, a different epistemology (theory of how we come to know and what we can know), a different metaphysic (beliefs about the fundamental structures of reality) a different psychology, a different pedagogy (convictions about how children learn), a vastly different anthropology (beliefs about what a human being is),and an almost complete negation of theology, then how can we submit to them without fierce and even obstinate resistance?

Modern means of assessment are the tax used by the powers that be to bring us into subjection as schools and parents. And just like the British tea tax, they actually drop the price of the commodity they tax. So we submit for economic reasons. We need a Boston Tea Party. We need a tax revolt. We need a Declaration of Independence.

But here’s the problem – among the radicals who revolted against the oppressions of the British monarchy were enough wise men to create the greatest political document since The Ten Commandments. These men were almost all educated in the Christian classical tradition. Enough of them knew when to fight on principle (please carefully note that it was not fundamentally an economic calculation that led them to revolt) and when to withdraw and take on the more sober task of creating a government.

So far, we have seen brush fire. I see a day when the flames of our rebellion will blaze like the walls of fire even now spreading across Australia – but these will be flames of wisdom and flames of peace. Most of all, these will be flames that burn in people’s souls who refuse to compromise the Divine Image in the children they teach.

To see that flame burn, we must believe in the power and the glory of the Christian classical tradition. Specifically, we must believe in it enough to reconsider how we assess learning.

So, Mystie, if you see this blog, please – let’s discuss how we can draw our means of assessment from the insights of our intellectual fathers, instead of from those Enlightenment and Progressive rebels who have taken over our fathers’ demesnes.

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