Purple-Fruit-Pickers

13 Apr

The Purple-Fruit-Picking Parable

This is a parable about assessment.  It compares what we are learning in school to how tall a person grows.  This is a powerful comparison since a person really can’t control how much they grow, just like a person really can’t control how they learn.  In the parable, as they come across problems with behaviour they need to assess how they are grading the students, so they call in a wise woman.  This wise woman says to plant smaller trees and provide ladders.  This is where we can make the connection with differentiated instruction and providing students with the tools they need to do the most and the best they can do.  This ties in to all of the differentiated instruction we talk about and knowing that not every student is the same and the way we teach them can’t be the same.

The people in the parable have difficulty with the fact that they can’t grade a person the same way if they are climbing different tree’s or if they are using ladders.  The wise woman says, what are we wanting?  To grade or to pick the fruit?

This is the big question and comes back to thoughts I have been having so much lately about assessment.  What is a grade?  The point of this parable is to put it into simple terms to show that it is so obvious that focusing on a grade isn’t the important thing.  Focusing on the learning achieved by the student is the most important thing, and there are ways to assess if they can accomplish that without having a standardized grade that is used to compare all students.

Schools focus on the grade.  It is the way they are structured and how they are geared towards post secondary education.  The fact is that it is competitive, there are scholarships that students are competing for, and for that post secondary aspect they are looked at.  The reality is that many students aren’t going to post secondary, and so if our instruction is geared towards that top 7% that we always hear about, what about the other 93%?

Assessment in this form is focusing solely on the end product.  This doesn’t really demonstrate the actual growth that a person goes through.  This is similar to the assessment I have faced in school, I haven’t ever really been assessed in other ways besides tests.  A big focus for my teaching is recognizing the assessment that I am doing within my instruction, and making sure there is ongoing assessment.

Like in the parable we need to “plant pink fruit trees” and change what it is we are focusing on which is most beneficial for students.

 

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