Reflect and learn

Aditi Mathur and Ratnesh Mathur

An ass was grazing in the field. A horse came up to him and said, “I can graze better than you.” The ass looked at the horse for a few seconds, swayed his head and continued grazing. The horse came back and said, “I can run faster than you.” The ass, a little bewildered, still continued his grazing. Soon, the horse was back, “I carry Kings and knights, you carry loads of cargo.” The ass, a little amused, continued grazing. After some time, the horse concluded, “You see, I am taller, more good looking. People like me more. I am better than you.” The ass smiled and replied, “Sire, You’re a horse. Then why ASSess yourself.”

first-steps Why do we need assessment?
Especially since none of us like being assessed, judged, or evaluated. Also, in most cases we already know how good or bad we are at a particular skill or knowledge.

Is it then just a way of selecting some (and rejecting others), where we cannot accommodate all? The limited seats in a college or vacancies at a job require assessment to possibly choose the best candidate.

So let’s make our question more specific: Why do we need assessment in learning?

Personally, we are at a loss to answer this one. When we think of most of the things we have learned in our life there was no role of assessment, at least not of formal assessment.

Assessment did not make me read better – the joy of books did; assessment did not make me write better – the joy of expressing did; assessment did not make me paint better – it only made me give up painting, concluding that I am not good at it. Sigh.

Whatever I wanted to learn (or even needed to learn – say, a professional skill) – I learned because I saw the value in learning it. Can our learning environments be designed in such a way that they invite children to learn, to do, and to play – not because they are going to be assessed but because they are going to learn and enjoy and benefit from it.

The horse came back to the ass, “I get your point dear. Maybe we can share notes on grazing, running and carrying.” The ass grinned widely, “Looks like you have been deeply reflecting.”

The horse nodded pensively, “You made me reflect, thanks Bro.” The ass snuggled up to the horse and said, “That’s the beauty of sharing the field with you. We can give each other feedback, question each other, and help each other grow.”

The authors run an open unschool called Aarohi and invite all readers to visit and see how open learning can be an amazing way to work with children. They also conduct training retreats and online training for teachers and parents. Visit

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