Matt Keene, AEAs thought leader for June 2012 says, “Wisdom, rooted in knowledge of thyself, is a prerequisite of good judgment. Everybody who’s anybody says so – Philo Judaeus,

Socrates,  Lao-tse,

Plotinus, Paracelsus,

Swami Ramdas,  and Hobbs.

I want to focus on the “wisdom is a prerequisite of good judgement” and talk about how that relates to evaluation.  I also liked the list of “everybody who’s anybody.”   (Although I don’t know who Matt means by Hobbs–is that Hobbes  or the English philosopher for whom the well known previous figure was named, Thomas Hobbes , or someone else that I couldn’t find and don’t know?)  But I digress…

 

“Wisdom is a prerequisite for good judgement.”  Judgement is used daily by evaluators.  It results in the determination of value, merit, and/or worth of something.  Evaluators make a judgement of value, merit, and/or worth.  We come to these judgements through experience.  Experience with people, activities, programs, contributions, LIFE.  Everything we do provides us with experience; it is what we do with that experience that results in wisdom and, therefore, leads to good judgements.

Experience is a hard teacher; demanding, exacting, and often obtuse.  My 19 y/o daughter is going to summer school at OSU.  She got approval to take two courses and for those courses to transfer to her academic record at her college.  She was excited about the subject; got the book; read ahead; and looked forward to class, which started yesterday.  After class, I had never seen a more disappointed individual.  She found the material uninteresting (it was mostly review because she had read ahead), she found the instructor uninspiring (possibly due to class size of 35).  To me, it was obvious that she needed to re-frame this experience into something positive; she needed to find something she could learn from this experience that would lead to wisdom.  I suggested that she think of this experience as a cross cultural exchange; challenging because of cultural differences.  In truth, a large state college is very different from a small liberal arts college; truly a different culture.  She has four weeks to pull some wisdom from this experience; four weeks to learn how to make a judgement that is beneficial.  I am curious to see what happens.

Not all evaluations result in beneficial judgements; often, the answer, the judgement, is NOT what the stakeholders want to hear.  When that is the case, one needs to re-frame the experience so that learning occurs (both for the individual evaluator as well as the stakeholders) so that the next time the learning, the hard won wisdom, will lead to “good” judgement, even if the answer is not what the stakeholders want to hear.  Matt started his discussion with the saying that “wisdom, rooted in knowledge of self, is a prerequisite for good judgement”.  Knowing your self is no easy task; you can only control what you say, what you do, and how your react (a form of doing/action).  The study of those things is a life long adventure, especially when you consider how hard it is to change yourself.  Just having knowledge isn’t enough for a good judgement; the evaluator needs to integrate that knowledge into the self and own it; then the result will be “good judgements”; the result will be wisdom.

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