Day 97 (of 184) practice vs performance
One of the toughest arguments/discussions in assessment and evaluation is the concept of ‘is it good enough if students can ‘demonstrate mastery’ in one realm but not the other…..
One discussion with an assistant superintendent about final exams had her commenting that she already knew how her students would do on the final – which then led to a discussion about ‘then why bother with the final exam?
Conversely basketball phenom Allen Iverson had a very low interest in practice (still easy to find on YouTube) preferring to show his skills during his performances – game time.
When I played football at UBC we had a kicker that would boom huge kicks throughout practice time, but at game time…..and in school I had a student who could do amazing work during class time, but when I still used ‘tests’ (directly linked to provincial learning outcomes, not a textbook) she froze up.
How to find the balance? And is it ‘always necessary’.
In both football and in school I seek that perfect harmony between consistently getting better during practice time and then shining during game time. Mainly because when mistakes are made during practice time, it’s a time to learn. When it’s a live performance, there aren’t re-dos. If/when a quarterback throws an interception the play can’t be re-run. If a student misreads a question they can redo it.
Fortunately very few ‘real jobs’ don’t allow redos. Even at school if there are mistakes on report cards (for those still working on those old tools) or reports to central office, there is a chance to make things right.
Not every day is the Super Bowl.
And it shouldn’t be. Those ‘one time to shine’ moments are very stressful and anxiety building. And not just for the performers. As a seahawk fan forever I am very nervous about their game for them. Same for when my students do live performances and why I have aways preferred and offered to ‘record them’ so there is a redo option.
I think this is because I believe in differentiating when performance trumps practice and when practice is ‘enough’. My differentiation is based on passion – when I am deciding what needs to be learned/done I am good with seeing students show their learning – or redoing something to show they relearned it- in practice times – or else I’m good with the imperfections of a ‘forced live performance’ (ie Christmas concerts).
When their passion is connected (music, sports etc) that’s when practice becomes less important and the performance becomes key. But the difference becomes more apparent over the years. Players don’t put in the time to reach the NFL because someone is making them – there is a burning passion that…
accepts the value of practice and the importance of performances…intrinsically.
The roughest part of focusing only on ‘the performance’ is that outside factors can influence the results – a hot goalie in hockey; a flu on exam day; a tired audience for a comedian, etc. Just like at Super Bowl XLVIII where I know my Seahawks will be ready, but then there is the other team that ‘wants it’ just as bad – and there can only be ‘one winner’ – thank goodness in school we don’t have to focus on one ‘best’ learner – oops unless you still have awards ceremonies…!