Did you know that there are at least 11 winter holidays besides Christmas–many of them related to light or the return of light.
One needs evaluation tools to determine the merit or worth, to evaluate the holiday’s value to you. For me, any that return light are important. So for me, there is Hanukkah (and eight candles), Solstice (and bonfires and yule logs), Christmas (and Advent wreaths with five candles), Kwanzaa ( and kinara seven candles). Sometimes Diwali falls late in November to be included (it is the ancient Hindu festival of lights that is a movable feast like Hanukkah).
I have celebrations for Hanukkah (I have several menorahs), for Solstice (I have two special candelabra that holds 12 candles–a mini-bonfire to be sure), for Advent/Christmas (I make a wreath each year), and for Kwanzaa (a handmade Kinara). And foods for each celebration as well. Because I live in a multicultural household, it is important that everyone understand that no holiday is more important than any other–all talk about returning light (literal or figurative). Sometimes the holidays over lap–Hanukkah, Solstice, Christmas all in the same week…phew, I’m exhausted just thinking about it. Sometimes it seems hard to keep them separate–then I realized that returning the light is not separate; it is light returning. It is an evaluative task.
So well come the new born sun/son…the light returns. Evaluation continues.
Happy Holidays…all of them!
I’m taking two weeks holiday–will see you in the new year.
Nelson Mandela died last week (Thursday, actually) at the age of 95. Invictus is the name of a movie which recounts the poem below. While in prison on Robbon Island, he recited this poem to other prisoners and was empowered by the self-mastery message in it. It is a powerful poem. Mandela was a powerful person. We and the world were blessed that he was with us for 95 years; that he was the master of his fate and captain of his soul.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
~~William Ernest Henley
When I read this poem and think of Mandela (aka Madiba). I also think of the evaluator’s guiding principles, especially the last three: Honesty/Integrity, Respect for People, and Responsibilities for General and Public Welfare. Mandela could have been an evaluator as even the first two principles could apply (Systematic Inquiry and Competence). He was certainly competent and he did systematic inquiry. He used these principles in an arena other than evaluation. Yet by doing what he did, he was able to determine the merit and worth of what he did. The world was lucky to have him for so long. He was the change he wished to see; and he changed the world.
I was reminded about the age of this blog (see comment below). Then it occurred to me: I’ve been writing this blog since December 2009. That is 4 years of almost weekly posts. And even though evaluation is my primary focus, I occasionally get on my soap box and do something different (White Christmas Pie, anyone?). My other passion besides evaluation is food and cooking. I gave a Latke party on Saturday and the food was pretty–and it even tasted good. I was more impressed by the visual appeal of my table; my guests were more impressed by the array of tastes, flavors, and textures. I’d say the evening was a success. This blog is a metaphor for that table. Sometimes I’m impressed with the visual appeal; sometimes I’m impressed with the content. Today is an anniversary. Four years. I find that amazing (visual appeal). The quote below (a comment offered by a reader on the post “Is this blog making a difference?”, a post I made a long time ago) is about content.
“Judging just from the age of your blog I must speculate that you’ve done something right. If not then I doubt you’d still be writing regularly. Evaluation of your progress is important but pales in comparison to the importance of writing fresh new content on a regular basis. Content that can be found no place else is what makes a blog truly useful and indeed helps it make a difference.”
Audit or evaluation?
I’m an evaluator; I want to know what difference the “program” is making in the lives of the participants. The local school district where I live, work, and send my children to school has provided middle school children with iPads . They want to “audit” their use. I commend the school district for that initiative (both giving the iPads as well wanting to determine the effectiveness). I wonder if they really want to know what difference the electronics are making in the lives of the students. I guess I need to go re-read Tom Schwandt’s 1988 book, “Linking Auditing and Metaevaluation”, a book he wrote with Ed Halpern, as well as see what has happened in the last 25 years (and it is NOT that I do not have anything else to read…). I think it is important to note the sentence (taken from the forward), “Nontraditional studies are found not only in education, but also in…divers fields …(and the list they provide is a who’s who in social science). The problem of such studies is “establishing their merit”. That is always a problem with evaluation–establishing the merit, worth, value of a program (study).
We could spend a lot of time debating the merit, worth, value of using electronics in the pursuit of learning. (In fact, Jeffrey Selingo writes about the need to personalize instruction using electronics in his 2013 book “College (Un)bound”–very readable, recommended.) I do not think counting the number of apps or the number of page views is going to answer the question posed. I do not think counting the number of iPads returned in working condition will either. This is an interesting experiment. How , reader, would you evaluate the merit, worth, value of giving iPads to middle school children? All ideas are welcome–let me know because I do not have an answer, only an idea.