If you know anything about education you’ll have heard the terms summative assessment and formative assessment. To explain as simply as I can, summative assessment is simple and clear and includes things such as a mark or letter grade. Formative assessment includes suggestions on how to improve during the learning process and explanations of what you’ve done well.
To use tennis as analogy, summative assessment would mean that I simply told you that you served the ball in or out and that you won the point or didn’t. Formative assessment on the other had might mean that I told you to throw the ball higher or stop closing your eyes and hoping for the best.
Anyway, I couldn’t help but wonder when yet another politician told us that something “failed the pub test” whether this apocryphal pub test was always summative when most of the pubs I’ve been in would be adopting something more akin to formative assessment.
“Scotty’s a good bloke.”
“Why do you say that?”
“I dunno. I mean, he was having a beer at the footy the other night, so you don’t get much better than that.”
“I think he’s a lazy prick, and anyway he can’t build a chook shed!!”
“Why do you say that?”
“Someone pointed out that he was holding a drill and he had nails in his mouth…”
“Was he biting them?”
“Nah, roof nails.”
”So how did he build it?”
”He didn’t! Why do you think we never see pictures of the chooks!”
“Shit, what a wanker. I aways knew he was a phony.”
“Bloody cold, isn’t it?”
”Yeah, so much for that global warming, eh?”
”Actually my daughter is at uni and she says that it’s not just about days being warmer. It’s about climate change.”
“Shit, that’s amazing.”
”Yeah, I always presumed that it was just going to mean that we got weather like Queensland and that I’d get a beach front house without moving, but no…”
”Nah, nah… I mean it’s amazing that you got a daughter at University. Is she one of those know it all academics who think they know more about a subject just because they’ve studied it for a few years?”
”Yeah sort of. I mean, she did say Alan Jones was wrong the other night.”
”Typical. Thinks she knows more than a bloke who once coached Australia’s rugby team.”
”Although she wasn’t talking about rugby.”
”Nah, but the bloke know a lot about other things too. He’s a very educated man.”
”Really, what’s his qualifications?”
”He’s got a show on Sky. You don’t get much more qualified than that.”
”Still I wouldn’t let him perform brain surgery on me.”
”Look mate, I don’t reckon you’ve got anything to worry about.”
See, it’s not an instant thing. It lobs around for a while before a consensus is reached or the subject is changed to something like: “I think that we should go back to my place because I just bought a new Weber and instead of this pub test stuff we should be talking about the latest barbecue stopper.”
Of course, you’ll notice that in both cases, I’ve used males of a particular demographic when talking about the pub test because, well, the very phrase “pub test” doesn’t suggest a group of women drinking chardonnay in a boutique hotel. Neither does it suggest the pubs where the politicians and journalists share their off the record briefings. It suggests people who have little more than a cursory understanding of the issue and who are like to fail the more usual pub test which involves blowing into a bag… (Not that politicians and those in Canberra would necessarily either pass a breath test or have more than a cursory understanding of the issue. Remember when Peta Credlin wasn’t guilty of drink driving because she had a note from the Attorney General saying that she was too important to be considered over the limit.) No, the phrase itself doesn’t have the same gravitas as “round table discussion” or “think tank” or “summit”.
All of which brings me to Christine Holgate and Greg “He really is a” Hunt. Mr Hunt said, “Look I apologise, I haven’t heard directly Christine Holgate’s comments so it’s probably not appropriate of me to speak that (sic). I will just say that if there are any emotional or other issues that any person suffers, we feel for them, no matter what the circumstances. So my response would be one for anybody who has emotional or other forms of challenge. That’s all that I know, that there were issues raised. So it’s just support and care, without being in a position to comment not having heard the specific words.”
Ok, I didn’t hear Mr Hunt’s comments directly so it’s probably not appropriate for me to comment on them, but like the man himself I will anyway. I’d just like to say that so many of his fellow government members seem to be suffering from emotional issues and we certainly feel for them, particularly his leader who was so upset about the fact that he had a two daughters, a wife and a mother, a widowed mother (which has since been clarified is not two mothers but the repetition of the first mother with an adjective) that he was in tears. They all need support and care. But hey, I’m not in a position to comment, but I’ll just say that we know that it’s all about emotion and not to do with the fact that the person running Australia Post successfully on a salary that was a couple of million dollars less than the previous head spent, about $20k on watches instead of giving them a six figure bonus, was summarily dismissed by a PM on the floor of the house in an emotional rant.
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