I know–how does this relate to evaluation? Although I think it is obvious, perhaps it isn’t.
I’ll start with a little background. In 1994, M. Scott Peck published A World Waiting To Be Born: Civility Rediscovered. In that book he defined a problem (and there are many) facing the then 20th century person ( I think it applies to the 21st century person as well). That problem was incivility or the “…morally destructive patterns of self-absorption, callousness, manipulativeness, and materialism so ingrained in our routine behavior that we do not even recognize them.” He wrote this in 1994–well before the advent of the technology that has enabled humon to disconnect from fellow humon while being connected. Look about you and count the folks with smart phones. Now, I’ll be the first to agree that technology has enabled a myriad of activities that 20 years ago (when Peck was writing this book) were not even conceived by ordinary folks. Then technology took off…and as a result, civility, community, and, yes, even compassion went by the way.
Self-absorption, callousness, manipulativeness, materialism are all characteristics of the lack of, not only civility (as Peck writes), also loss of community and lack of compassion. If those three (civility, community, compassion) are lost–where is there comfort? Seems to me that these three are interrelated.
To expand–How many times have you used your smart phone to text someone across the room? (Was it so important you couldn’t wait until you could talk to him/her in person–face-to-face?) How often have you thought to yourself how awful an event is and didn’t bother to tell the other person? How often did you say the good word? The right thing? That is evaluation–in the everyday sense. Those of us who call ourselves evaluators are only slightly different from those of you who don’t. Although evaluators do evaluation for a living, everyone does it because evaluation is part of what gets us all through the day.
Ask your self as an evaluative task–was I nice or was I mean? This reflects civility, compassion, and even community.–even very young children know that difference. Civility and compassion can be taught to kindergarteners–ask the next five year old you see–was it nice or was it mean? They will tell you. They don’t lie. Lying is a learned behavior–that, too, is evaluative.
You can ask your self guiding questions about community; about compassion; about comfort. They are all evaluative questions because you are trying to determine if you have made a difference. You CAN be the change you want to see in the world; you can be the change you want to be. That, too is evaluative. Civility. Compassion. Community. Comfort.