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The National Curriculum Framework 2005 (NCF) and Integral Education

Author: Rod Hemsell

Last Updated: June 13, 2012

The National Curriculum Framework 2005 (NCF) and Integral Education

Introduction
I believe we can conclude that the principles of education reform first articulated by Sri Aurobindo 100 years ago in his essays on A System of National Education have culminated in the methodology formulated by the National Council of Educational Research and Training, adopted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), and now being implemented nationally, known as NCF. This document and the principles of education that it expounds embody the most progressive, child-centered educational ideas and strategies practiced today in many schools of the world, and illustrate the pervasive nature of the insights expressed by Sri Aurobindo in the early decades, and by the Mother in the 40s and 50s, of the 20th Century. Their seminal ideas have become the norms of progressive education reform. The purpose of this brief essay is to demonstrate the concreteness of this remarkable achievement, and thereby to draw a direct connection between NCF and Auroville Education. 
 
Constructivism
In the introduction to NCF, Prof. Yash Pal writes on the first page; The document frequently revolves around the question of curriculum load on children. In this regard we seem to have fallen into a pit. We have bartered away understanding for memory-based, short-term information accumulation. This must be reversed, particularly now that the mass of what could be memorized has begun to explode. We need to give our children some taste of understanding, following which they would be able to learn and create their own versions of knowledge as they go out to meet the world of bits, images and transactions of life. 
 
Here Yash Pal has indicated the problem formulated long ago by Sri Aurobindo in these words: The argument against national education proceeds in the first place upon the lifeless academic notion that the subject, the acquiring of this or that kind of information is the whole or the central matter. But the acquiring of various kinds of information is only one and not the chief of the means and necessities of education: its central aim is the building of the powers of the human mind and spirit, it is the formation or, as I would prefer to view it, the evoking of knowledge and will and of the power to use knowledge, character, culture that at least if no more (SA/M p.9).
 
It is especially important to note here one of the most meaningful concepts in education reform, which is indicated by the phrases create their own versions of knowledge and the building of the powers of the human mind for this is the notion of constructivism. When the Mother expressed these ideas, she used the notion in a very explicit way: The growth of the understanding much more than that of memory should be insisted upon. One knows only what one understands. Indeed, as the child progresses in his studies and grows in age, his mind too ripens and is more and more capable of general ideasfor a knowledge stable enough to be made the basis of a mental construction which will permit all diverse and scattered and often contradictory ideas accumulated in the brain to be organized and put in order (SA/M p. 116-117). But learning is only one aspect of mental activity; the other, at least as important, is the constructive faculty, the capacity to give form and therefore prepare for action (SA/M p.118).
 
The underlying insight in all of these expressions is now commonly known as constructivist, activity based education, and it has become the formal methodology of NCF as well as of the Harvard Graduate School of Educations teacher training program. It is also the basic methodology that has been practiced consciously in most Auroville schools for at least the past ten years. 
 
In the body of NCF, after an elaborate description of the problems of a memory and examination based system of education, the constructivist approach is stated explicitly: Child-centered pedagogy means giving primacy to childrens experiences, their voices, and their active participation (p. 13). Learners actively construct their own knowledge by connecting new ideas to existing ideas on the basis of materials/activities presented to them through experience (p. 17). Active engagement involves enquiry, exploration, questioning, debates, application and reflection, leading to theory building and the creation of ideas (p.18).
 
In Sri Aurobindos writings, the first principles of a child-centered pedagogy were stated succinctly, very early in the process of educational development which, we may perhaps say, is now in its completion phase, and these are the most oft-quoted of his statements on the subject: The first principle of true teaching is that nothing can be taught. The teacher is not an instructor or task-master, he is a helper and a guide.  The second principle is that the mind has to be consulted in its own growth. The idea of hammering the child into the shape desired by the parent or teacher is a barbarous and ignorant superstition. It is he himself who must be induced to expand in accordance with his own nature. The third principle of education is to work from the near to the far, from that which is to that which shall be. The basis of a mans nature is almost always (in addition to his souls past), his heredity, his surroundings, his nationality, his country, the soil from which he draws sustenance, the air which he breathes, the sights, sounds, habits to which he is accustomed and from that then we must begin. The past is our foundation, the present our material, the future our aim and summit (SA/M p. 20-22).
 
In his introduction to NCF, Yash Pal said that the NCERT document was the product of research to focus attention on what should be taught to our children and how. The what and the how are generally known, respectively, as the content and the method. The NCF document, however, like the writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on education, focuses almost exclusively on the how, the methodology. And that is the aspect of what is generally known as child-centered education reform suggested above by Sri Aurobindos three principles. But how does NCF deal with these principles, either in theory or practice? The document says, for example, The childs community and local environment form the primary context in which learning takes place, and in which knowledge acquires its significance. In this document we emphasize the significance of contextualizing education: of situating learning in the context of the childs world, and of making the boundary between the school and its natural and social environment porous. If we want to examine how learning relates to future visions of community life, it is crucial to encourage reflection on what it means to know something, and how to use what we have learnt (NCF p. 30). The way that Sri Aurobindo put this idea was this: there are three things that have to be taken into account in a true and living education: the individual in his commonness and in his uniqueness, the nation or people, and universal humanity. It follows that that alone will be a true and living education which helps to bring out to full advantage, makes ready for the full purpose and scope of human life all that is in the individual, and which at the same time helps him to enter into his right relation with the life, mind, and soul of the people to which he belongs and with the great total life, mind and soul of humanity (SA/M p.13). This is the shift from teacher centered education to learner centered education, for the development of both individual and society.
 
And to encourage the application of this principle, the syllabus/texts frequently suggest activities to be done, in or out of school, such as, in social geography for example, construct a population pyramid of your school to assess gender distribution or visit your neighborhood retailers or self-help groups to find out about gender, education and migration patterns in your village, etc. In our school (NESS) students have conducted detailed surveys in the community to learn about water distribution and sanitation in our local villages, and to analyze local food production and consumption patterns. Living in a rural area is an ideal situation for studying todays radically changing socio-economic patterns, in order to put a relevant what to the how of the three first principles. 
 
We can compare these activities with some that are documented annually in the SAIIER reports on Auroville education, (which I happen to have edited for three years 2006-2009), where we find elaborate descriptions of similar activities undertaken by students in their schools, from explorations in the bioregion, to dramas, research projects on the environment, art projects, visits to Auroville farms, etc. And we find frequent reference to the fact that the students choose an activity, explore their interests, make oral presentations, debate their positions on topics, etc. In all of these activities, the teacher is a support and guide to the students learning process, students are being consulted with respect to their interests and skills level, and the subject matter is generally relevant to todays reality in relation to the past and the future. 
 
Because of our small school size in Auroville, and our relaxed environment, it is undoubtedly easier for us to implement the NCF reforms here, in a school like NESS, than it is for large public schools which have thousands of students, and there is therefore a closer relationship between our CBSE program and Auroville education in general than there is between our CBSE program and what we would find at the JIPMER Central School. But the point of this essay is to illustrate the former closeness, in principle and practice, between NCF and Auroville education. That closeness is what makes NCF relevant for us.
 
Integralism
In her short but very influential essay on education, around 1950, the Mother wrote: Education, to be complete, must have five principal aspects relating to the five principal activities of the human being: the physical, the vital, the mental, the psychic, and the spiritual. Usually, these phases of education succeed each other in a chronological order following the growth of the individual; this, however, does not mean that the one should replace the other but that all must continue, completing each other, till the end of life. (SA/M p. 96). This is undoubtedly the basis of the ideal that she assigned to us in the Charter of Auroville: to be the place of an unending education. 
 
And in this essay she especially emphasized the importance of the education of the vital. Of all education, the education of the vital is perhaps the most important and the most indispensable. This is what we normally refer to as character development, or as she put it to become conscious and gradually master of ones character. The child must be taught to observe himself, to note his reactions and impulses and their causes, to become a clear-sighted witness of his desires, his movements of violence and passion, his instincts of possession and appropriation and domination Evidently, the process would be useful only when along with the growth of the power of observation there grows also the will towards progress and perfection (SA/M p. 107-112).
 
In this context, one of the most remarkable aspects of the NCF education reforms is the introduction of what is called Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) which is a system for observing, annotating, and supporting the development of the whole child: mental, emotional, social, physical in addition to the normal exclusive preoccupation of schools with academic development. And again, NCF has added a very substantial how to the what by creating a system that sensitizes teachers to the aspects of child-development which should now be emphasized in place of the old, one dimensional system of ranking students according to examination results. This idea of assessment as an on-going part of the teaching/learning process, rather than an end-of-the-road ranking, has been one of the main focuses of progressive education, especially at Harvards Project Zero, under the direction of Howard Gardner, who is perhaps the most influential education reformer in the world today. And why is on-going evaluation important? The answer is simple: If we dont state our desired goals clearly and measure our progress toward achieving them, no one will know where we are headed or how far we have to go. 
 
As an example of what this aspect of education reform means and how it works, a few short examples may be taken from the Position Paper on Aims of Education - NCF 2005, NCERT:
 
Need:
The School Based Continuous and Comprehensive
Evaluation system should be established to:
Reduce stress on children
Make evaluation comprehensive and regular
Provide space for the teacher for creative teaching
Provide a tool of diagnosis and remedial action
Produce learners with greater skills
The objectives are:
To help develop cognitive, psychomotor and affective skills
To lay emphasis on thought process and de- emphasise
memorization
To make evaluation an integral part of teaching- learning process
To use evaluation for improvement of students achievement and
teaching-learning strategies on the basis of regular diagnosis
followed by remedial instructions
To use evaluation as a quality control device to maintain desired
standard of performance
To determine social utility, desirability or effectiveness of a
programme and take appropriate decisions about the learner,
the process of learning and the learning environment
To make the process of teaching and learning a learner-centered
activity
 
Life skills to be evaluated:
1 Self Awareness
2 Problem Solving
3 Decision Making
4 Critical Thinking
5 Creative Thinking
6 Interpersonal Relationships
7 Effective Communication
8 Empathy
9 Managing Emotions
10 Dealing with stress
 
For teachers to be required to observe students and themselves with respect to these qualitative aspects of learning is just a step away from the recognition of those ideal psychological qualities that the Mother pointed to in her guidelines for vital education, which she said should be inculcated in both teachers and students: sincerity, honesty, straightforwardness, courage, disinterestedness, unselfishness, patience, endurance, perseverance, peace, calm, self-control. 
 
There are many other examples of the NCF reforms, from the original 125 page document, as well as from numerous other publications of NCERT and CBSE during the past five years, which indicate the quite remarkable results of an intensive and thorough process that is underway in India to revolutionize public education, and which can be linked directly to the early teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on education. It is also well-known that many students of their teachings, and followers of their example, have been involved in this process at the national level for several decades. It should also be recognized that the Auroville Foundation portfolio sits in the Ministry of Human Resource Development alongside the CBSE/NCERT portfolio, and the UNESCO portfolio, and that we are natural collaborators in bringing about this revolution, for India and for Human Unity, along with all those who have adopted non-traditional, student-centered educational practices.
 
Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation and Integral Education Philosophy
It will be instructive to examine more closely some of the specific guidelines published by the CBSE to help teachers implement the principles of continuous assessment. In its CCE Manual for Teachers we read, for example:
 
Education aims at making children capable of becoming responsible, productive and useful members of a society. Knowledge, skills and attitudes are built through learning experiences and opportunities created for learners in school. It is in the classroom that learners can analyse and evaluate their experiences, learn to doubt, to question, to investigate and to think independently. The aim of education simultaneously reflects the current needs and aspirations of a society as well as its lasting values and human ideals. At any given time and place it can be called the contemporary and contextual articulations of broad and lasting human aspirations and values. Conceptual  development is thus a continuous process of deepening and enriching connections and acquiring new layers of meaning. Simultaneously theories that children have about the natural and social world develop, including about themselves in relation to others, which provide them with explanations for why things are the way they are and the relationship between cause and effect. (CCE Teacher Manual, p. 1)
 
This definition of the aims of constructivist education, sometimes known also as discovery or enquiry based learning, assumes that students are in the end responsible for their own learning.  This was the idea behind that early first principle formulated by Sri Aurobindo, that nothing can be taught. The constructivist assumption is that learning is a process that takes place in the individual consciousness; it is not something that is imposed from outside by a teacher. But for Sri Aurobindo, writing his philosophy of social development in the early 20th Century, there was more to this psychological discovery than educational theory: it was the basis of a new and radical conception of the right of all individuals as members of the society to the full life and the full development of which they are individually capable. social development and well being mean the development and well being of all the individuals in the society and not merely a flourishing of the community in the mass which resolves itself into the splendour and power of one or two classes. 
 
It was the dawning of the democratic ideal in Indian political theory, and of the values of individualism. Sri Aurobindo was in the vanguard of that movement and was acutely aware that it was only the full development of each individual that could result eventually in a successful renewal of the collective life. For, this new spirit of individualism contained in it a deeper insight: ..only by admitting and realizing our unity with others can we entirely fulfill our true self-being. Education, conceived as a tool of the society and culture, must therefore offer students opportunities to experience connections, - between language and meaning, symbols and reality,  ideas and values, - in order to truly understand themselves and their relationships with the natural and social world around them, of which they are an integral part. The early trend toward such a progressive and integral educational development of the inner and outer being, of self and society, and of a balanced development of mind, life, body, and soul was noted by Sri Aurobindo as early as 1918: there was a glimmering of the realization that each human being is a self-developing soul and that the business of both parent and teacher is to enable and to help the child to educate himself, to develop his own intellectual, moral, aesthetic and practical capacities and to grow freely as an organic being, not to be kneaded and pressured into form like an inert plastic material. 
 
Assessment for learning
Teacher-guided, activity-based learning experiences and exposures, intended to enhance the development of academic skills and knowledge, are generally what we mean today, in a progressive educational context, by schooling. In this context there is a variety of formative and summative assessments whereby such skills and knowledge acquisition are assessed, and we can measure students progress. But how do we determine whether the students are also acquiring self-knowledge, a sense of who they are in relation to the world around them, and a value system that will enable them to live healthy, productive, creative and responsible lives beyond school? It is this more profound psychological aspect of schooling that the CCE system is attempting to bring into focus, for both teachers and students. And the pedagogical approach that it has adopted is sometimes known as assessment for learning and assessment as learning. It is an approach that has been extensively researched by the Harvard Graduate School of Education in America and it is being applied in many progressive educational systems around the globe. And, like all good, enquiry based methodology, it asks the question! It is when we ask the question, when we enquire, that we inform ourselves and others about the things we want to know. And this enquiry, in turn, also conveys our values: What we want to know, is what we believe is most important.
 
The CCE system, therefore, creates checklists made up of the kinds of information-questions that we want to assess. These checklists may be considered rubrics or codes, which set forth the value-criteria by which we expect students to achieve and demonstrate individual self-development. Below, we find three sets of value rubrics for thinking, social and emotional skills, derived from a longer CCE list, which indicate the skills that we want students to develop. The lists have been shortened and modified slightly from the original text (CCE Teacher Manual, p. 50-52) for the sake of simplicity and convenience. This shortened list will provide ample material to illustrate the principles.
 

(i) Thinking Skills

1. Recognizes and analyzes a problem

2. Collects relevant information from

reliable sources

3. Evaluates alternative decisions for

advantageous and adverse consequences

4. Demonstrates divergent (out-of-the-box) thinking

5. Demonstrates flexibility and openness to modification

of opinions

(ii) Social Skills

1. Helps classmates in case of difficulties in

academic and personal issues

2. Actively listens and pays attention to others

3. Explains and articulates a concept differently

so that others can understand in simple language

4. Demonstrates leadership skills, like responsibility,

 initiative etc.

5. Helps others develop independence and avoid dependency.

(iii) Emotional Skills

1. Is optimistic

2. Believes in self and shows self confidence

3. If unsuccessful, gracefully tries the

task again

4. Maintains decency under stressful

interpersonal situations

5. Does the student recognize her strengths and weaknesses?

This list of fifteen character traits might easily be considered a good beginning of a profile for the ideal student, although there are certainly many more traits that we could add. The CCE manual also includes descriptors for physical health, artistic expression, creativity, moral values, and so on. But let us consider some of these fifteen descriptors briefly. How shall we assess them? First we must ask corresponding questions: Does the student recognize and analyze problems? Does the student demonstrate divergent thinking? Does the student actively listen and pay attention to others?  Does the student demonstrate leadership skills? Does the student show self-confidence? If she is unsuccessful, does she gracefully try the task again? Does she recognize her strengths and weaknesses? In order to answer these questions, the teacher must develop a much greater degree of sensitivity to the student than is normally required for teaching a unit or grading a quiz. In fact, the teacher must set aside the academic subject altogether, and tune in to the psychology of the student. These questions are not even verbally presented to the student; they are formulated and held in the consciousness of the teacher/evaluator who must try to perceive the answers! Does the student recognize her strengths and weaknesses? can only be answered by the penetrating observation of an aspect of the student which cannot be seen at all! It is an aspect of personality that is normally hidden to all but the student herself, and perhaps it is also hidden even to herself. And so it is with most of the other criteria that have been listed. And yet these behaviors and values can be demonstrated and observed more and more clearly and objectively as we make them the object of our attention, and as we discuss them with our students. As with the development of any skill, frequent opportunity for practice and awareness of the behaviors must be given, and their occurrence must be recognized and rewarded. And yet they are not things that we teach; in fact they have little to do with us, as teachers. They are qualities and actions that belong strictly to the student, for which the student alone is responsible. We are merely observers and monitors, seeking to learn more about our students. And we know that what is valuable to us will also be valued by them.
 
In order to systematize the assessment of personality traits such as these, it is helpful to maintain a schedule of observations. Circumstances and settings must be arranged which lend themselves to the types of behavior that should be expressed. Therefore, the CCE manual recommends certain tools and techniques which can be utilized for this purpose. For example, debates and project presentations, which are a regular feature of an activity-based classroom, offer ample opportunity for listening actively to others, for helping others to be independent learners, for leadership, for modifying ones opinions, and even for dealing with stressful interpersonal relationships. The teachers art is to utilize such opportunities for noticing and documenting the presence or absence of these traits on a regular basis, and then to give the students constructive feedback on what has been observed. In this way, a culture of subjective knowledge and behavior can be created, parallel to the usual activities and content for developing academic skills and knowledge but which now will provide the context for enhancing the students integral development. 
 
The next challenge is to document and assign credit to these traits. In any learning process there is a curve of change and growth which must be monitored and documented in order to ascertain whether learning is actually taking place. This can generally be measured either quantitatively or qualitatively. And one of the best tools to use is an assessment rubric which clearly defines the range of skills to be measured. The checklist of descriptors may be considered a holistic rubric against which the presence or absence of the traits described can be evaluated. For example, five observations for the first five descriptors may be made for a particular student over the course of a few days or weeks and recorded as follows:
 
Recognizes and analyzes a problem x x o o o 2
Collects relevant, reliable information x x x o o 3
Evaluates alternative decisions wisely o o o x o 1
Demonstrates divergent (out-of-the-box) thinking o o o o o 0
Demonstrates flexibility and openness x x x x x 5
This student has scored 11 out of a possible 25 points on this assessment. For future reference we may add a space for anecdotal evidence below the form to record particular instances of the presence or absence of the trait which we discuss with student. After collecting similar observations in a variety of circumstances throughout a semester, it will be possible to ascertain, reflect upon, and discuss the pattern of behavior that emerges.  The frequency of observations is an important factor in eliminating personal bias on the part of the evaluator. The marks given will remain subjective, no doubt, but if they are based on a clear understanding of the nature of the behavior to be observed, then similar patterns should be observed by other teachers, thus establishing a reasonable degree of objectivity. And there is ample opportunity for the teacher to further verify her observations in discussions with the student. Self-assessments and peer assessments may also be added to the picture to further validate the observations made.
 
 In addition to the holistic rubric, which relies primarily on quantitative analysis, a vertical, analytical scale of qualities for each descriptor may be added. Such a scale can then be used to evaluate each observation with respect to the quality of the behavior observed. For example:
Descriptors Needs improvement or “never” (1) In progress or “sometimes” (2) Basic or “often” (3) Proficient or “most of the time” (4) Advanced or “always” (5)
Recognizes a problem During class discussions During class discussions Duringclass discussions During class discussions During class discussions
Collects relevant information Using the text or computer resources Using text or computer resources From three sources From more than three sources From more than three sources
Evaluates decisions for/against In a written paper In a written paper In discussions and writing In discussions, debates and writing In discussions, debates and writing
Out-of-the-box thinking During class discussions During class discussions In discussions and writing In discussions, debates and writing In discussions, debates and writing
Shows flexibility in opinions During discussions During discussions In discussions and writing In discussions, debates and writing In discussions, debates and writing

 

Analytical rubrics are especially useful for assessing projects and academic skills development. They require a much greater degree of specificity but they provide a much better guideline for both the teacher and the student to understand the expectations or goals of the activity and its assessment. If the analytical rubric is created in the context of class discussion with students, then there can be little doubt or misunderstanding about what is expected. 
 
Appendix 1- Sample rubrics for both academic and non-academic assessments for learning
 
CCE Co-scholatic Skills Assessment Rubric – New Era Secondary School, Auroville
Thinking Skills Descriptors Obs 1 Obs 2 Obs 3 Obs 4 Obs 5 Score
Recognizes and analyzes a problem Comment:            
Collects relevant, reliable information Comment:            
Evaluates alternative decisions wisely Comment:            
Demonstrates divergent (out-of-the-box) thinking Comment:            
Demonstrates flexibility and openness Comment:            

 

New Era Secondary School   2011-12
Part  2 D Attitudes Towards School Programmes and Environment
Name of the student_____________        Class _______  Teacher_________________
S.N. Descriptors Score (Out of 5) Observations Comments  
1 Attaches a lot of importance to school activities and programmes        
2 Participates in school activities relating to improvement of environment        
3 Shoulders responsibility happily        
4 Insists on parents to participate/witness school programmes        
5 Takes care of school property        
    Total   Grading Scale A - 5 - Always
    Average Grade     B - 4 - Most of the time
          C - 3 - Often
          D - 2 - Sometimes
          E - 1 - Never

Persuasive Essay Rubric Heidi Goodrich Andrade, Project Zero

Criteria 4 3 2 1
The claim I make a claim and explain why it is controversial. I make a claim but don't explain why it is controversial. My claim is buried, confused and/or unclear. I don't say what my argument or claim is.
Reasons in support of the claim I give clear and accurate reasons in support of my claim. I give reasons in support of my claim but I may overlook important reasons. I give 1 or 2 weak reasons that don't support my claim and/or irrelevant or confusing reasons. I do not give convincing reasons in support of my claim.
Reasons against the claim I discuss the reasons against my claim and explain why it is valid anyway. I discuss the reasons against my claim but leave some reasons out and/or don't explain why the claim still stands. I say that there are reasons against the claim but I don't discuss them. I do not acknowledge or discuss the reasons against the claim.
Organization My writing has a compelling opening, an informative middle and a satisfying conclusion. My writing has a beginning, middle and end. It marches along but doesn't dance. My writing is organized but sometimes gets off topic. My writing is aimless and disorganized.
Voice and tone It sounds like I care about my argument. I show how I think and feel about it. My tone is OK but my paper could have been written by anyone. I need to tell more about how I think and feel. My writing is bland or pretentious. There is either no hint of a real person in it or it sounds like I'm a fake. My writing is too formal or too informal. It sounds like I don't like the topic of the essay.
Word choice The words I use are striking but natural, varied and vivid. I make routine word choices. The words I use are often dull or uninspired or sound like I am trying too hard to impress. I use the same words over and over and over and over. Some words may be confusing to a reader.
Sentence fluency My sentences are clear, complete, and of varying lengths. I have well-constructed sentences. My sentences are sometimes awkward, and/or contain run-ons and fragments. Many run-ons, fragments and awkward phrasings make my essay hard to read.
Conventions I use correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation. I generally use correct conventions. I have a couple of errors I should fix. I have enough errors in my essay to distract a reader. Numerous errors make my paper hard to read.

 

SCIENCE PROJECT RUBRIC – PROJECT ZERO by Heidi Goodrich Andrade

ATTRIBUTES LEVEL 1 (ADVANCED) LEVEL 2 (PROFICIENT) LEVEL 3 (BASIC)
Organization of written work Well-organized, complete and factual, correctly formatted Fairly well-organized, mostly complete and factual, a few errors in format Poorly organized, lacking significant factual information, several errors in format
Prairie and basic ecology information in reports and presentation Reflects a deep understanding of ecosystem functioning; contains abundant specific facts about prairie organisms and abiotic factors; includes at least two aesthetic values of the prairie habitat Reflects some understanding of ecosystem functioning; contains adequate specific facts about prairie organisms and abiotic factors; includes at least one aesthetic value of the prairie habitat Reflects a basic or no understnding of ecosystem functioning; contains minimal or incorrect specific facts about prairie organisms and abiotic factors; does not include aesthetic values of the prairie
Quality of oral group presentation Well-organized, logical sequence, clear evidence of planning, use of two or more high quality visual aids Fairly well-organized, sequence not always logical, some evidence of planning, use of one high quality visual aid Poorly organized, sequence not logical, little evidence of planning, low quality or no visual aids
Group involvement All members actively involved in research, planning, organization, and presentation All members usually involved in most group activities Inconsistent effort by group members
Final decision statement Decision is clear and well-supported by three or more factual arguments Decision is clear but is supported poorly or by 1-2 factual arguments Decision is unclear and/or is unsupported or is supported mostly by opinions
Quality of overall proposal Creative, well-designed, meets all requirements, reasonable, and economically possible Some creativity, meets all requirements, generally reasonable, and economically possible Little or no creativity, meets most requirements, problems with feasibility
Evidence of varied viewpoints considered Counter viewpoints presented with well constructed rebuttals Counter viewpoints presented without adequate rebuttal Counter viewpoints ignored or discounted

 

Appendix 2 – Supplementary Essay for Higher Secondary Level Assessment

Performativity Criteria and Integral Assessment 
 
Introduction
 
By “performativity criteria” we generally mean technological efficiency, standards of excellence, marketability and profitability of products. Work performance is good if it meets these criteria, whether in academia or business. In technologically advanced countries, for example, people expect more efficient cars each year, better roads, faster and cleaner health services, state of the art schools and teachers, etc. If they don’t get these things they are unhappy. They are conditioned to expect certain standards of technological excellence.
 
In India we can easily see that such standards and expectations are becoming more necessary and more feasible. In the developing world, traditional values no longer provide the standards needed to evaluate our life systems. Doing things the way our parents did them no longer works.  And at the same time, while conventional expectations are breaking down, many standards of technological excellence may be too costly to achieve, there may not be a sufficiently high level of expertise, and such expectations may be unrealistic. In fact, environmental and economic crises may prevent India from ever achieving the performativity standards of advanced technological societies.
 
Under these circumstances, we may also recognize that “information based” systems and norms of performance alone are not enough to take us forward towards a desirable future. The ability to adapt to a complex reality, to make relevant and ethical choices, to think and act creatively and with an inclusive discrimination are also skills that the educational system needs to cultivate in students if they are to achieve a viable future. These skills will require a higher set of performativity criteria, a more integral approach to learning, and a more complex and authentic means of assessment.
 
Information Based Values - A Critical Perspective
 
The reason for posing the question of educational values in this way is to create a critical perspective in which to assess our theories and practices. Performativity criteria are based on standards determined largely by the market place and by corporate finance. Schools in the world of advanced technological values and corporate control are supposed to further the values of these domains; preparing students to be consumers as well as purveyors of such values is what will make life meaningful, people happy, and civilization a success. Sociologists and philosophers in the developed societies have recognized these patterns since the 70s, and they are now replicating themselves with renewed vigour in the developing world; a very large percentage of the information conveyed by information based systems, whether educational, scientific, political or economic, is shaped by the values and forces of finance and technology. And such values are often not respectful of our higher human selves and capacities, nor of our connectedness with each other and all of life.  
 
The problematic that I wish to raise is therefore twofold: 1) the worlds of technology and finance must not be allowed to disconnect the minds and lives of students from the five-fold reality of body, life, mind, inner self and spirit, by displacing it with another, flat-screen, virtual reality; and 2) our educational practices must enable students to develop all their capacities, and especially the powers of critical thinking and creative imagination. And I will attempt a unified solution to these problems that employs another rather suspicious activity and terminology: assessment. Well, the bottom line is, if we aren’t going to simply and blindly accept what our elders, teachers and employers tell us to do, think, believe, feel, then we are going to have to evaluate these things and determine whether they are true, beneficial and meaningful, or not. And to do this we must have criteria with which to judge them.
 
An educational program that aims to encourage and develop learning for the sake of understanding and knowledge, and individuals who are creative, imaginative, ethical, practical, and respectful of a complex and integral reality,  must be able to assess and verify these outcomes. And in order to have these outcomes to evaluate, the initial unit or project design must deliberately create opportunities for such outcomes. In other words, the assessment criteria that we propose at the end also provide us with design criteria going into the design of learning modules. We do not want to simply teach the textual content or access the information, nor do we want to simply pass on outworn formulas; we want to develop creativity, imagination, critical thinking, persuasive speaking and writing, and a strong sense that what is being learned is relevant and meaningful. A 33% pass on a standardized exam isn’t going to tell us anything about what we really want students to know.
 
The Integral Assessment Rubric
 
Now I want to move beyond the critical and theoretical issues, - about which I suppose many of us will agree - and to show you and explain a practical tool that you can use to shape integral educational outcomes in your school. The first step entails a basic attitude of questioning and discovery. We simply ask the student to reflect on the unit we are teaching or on the project being done, by asking: Is it of any practical use or personal benefit? Is it socially or economically relevant? Is it inclusive of different points of view or values? Is it beautiful or inspiring? Does it bring us a sense of peace and joy? Is it meaningful?  This is a kind of heuristic approach to prime the student to take interest.
 
If the lessons and activities don’t answer such questions positively, we are probably wasting valuable educational time. So then, how do we build these values into the learning process? First we must be ready to consult the student in the planning of an assignment and try to formulate an enquiry based approach: What can you do to make this project meaningful? How will you show whether this project is relevant either locally or globally to our lives? What skills do you need to develop to make this project worthwhile? What kind of an outcome do you think would show that different values, different approaches to learning, different levels of human potential have been included – artistic, economic,  psychological, political?
Then, an assessment rubric is created, also in consultation with the student if possible, that incorporates specific criteria for measuring these goals and outcomes of the activity. 

Example: Writing, Speaking and Research Project - Integral Assessment Rubric

Knowledge and skills assessment criteria Unsatisfactory In Progress Basic Proficient Advanced
COMMUNICATION          
Conventions:          
grammar, punct, etc.          
PRESENTATION          
logical, sequential,          
relevant, etc.          
visual – illustration          
VOICE          
clear point of view,          
enthusiasm,          
confidence, etc.          
CONTENT          
factual,          
theoretical,          
contextual relevance,          
accuracy, scope, etc.          
SOURCES          
attribution          
credibility          
sufficiency, etc.       evidence  
UNDERSTANDING          
scope, depth, etc.          
originality          
social/moral relevance irrelevant   light    
MEANING          
In relation to previous achievement, present goals, local/global values, personal growth…          
OTHER          
Adding the measurements…          
Knowledge and skills assessment criteria Unsatisfactory In Progress Basic Proficient Advanced
COMMUNICATION          
Conventions: Mostly Partially Mostly Completely Excellent
grammar, punct, etc. incorrect correct correct correct &elegant
PRESENTATION          
logical, sequential, Unconvincing Partially Mostly Totally World
relevant, etc.   convincing convin- convin- changing
visual – illustration     cing cing  
VOICE          
clear point of view, Absent Partially Mostly Consistently Over-
enthusiasm,   present present present powering
confidence, etc.          
CONTENT          
factual, real, rudimentary elementary mature compre- Exhaust-
theoretical validity, narrow simplistic thought hensive & ive
contextual relevance, irrelevant low level solid important  
interviews, surveys impact &sound      
SOURCES          
attribution No research Weak Sound Thorough Pulitzer
credibility   evidence evidenc accurate Prize
sufficiency, etc.       evidence            
UNDERSTANDING No light mostly Good Shining Dazzling
scope, depth, etc. no interest borrowed insight bright  
originality copied others light some & clear  
social/moral relevance irrelevant   light              
MEANING          
In relation to previous achievement, present goals, local/global values, personal growth… Lost in dreamland Signs of awaken- ing On the path Breaking new ground Moon walking

 

Conclusion
 
Here is where performativity criteria and integrality in the educational process come together on a higher level than either can attain by itself. When we ask of the learning process and outcome, Is it good?, we mean also Is the outcome meaningful to the student?, Has there been observable progress in relation to previous attainment?, Is the student stimulated to change the world, or at least to understand it better?
 
If we can see evidence that the student can express clearly the intention of the lesson or project, and finds that it is something interesting, relevant and meaningful…
 
If we can see evidence of an inclusiveness of different approaches, levels, and values…
 
If we can see evidence that the skills, procedures, outcomes, content of the student’s performance have applicability and relevance in the local or global context…
 
If the skills, interest level, understanding, and personal values of the student have been enhanced and enriched by the lesson or project in a clearly perceptible, measurable way…
 
Then it is likely that the information obtained and used, the technology involved or implied, the student’s learning, and the time spent in carefully assessing these most worthwhile outcomes will bear fruit in the lives of our students and in the world that they will create.
 
Rod Hemsell
 
Auroville
September 2011