Guiding the learning journey

Ashokan N V

I have been a teacher for 12 years now. Out of the several experiences I have had during these years, I would like to share with you a thought about evaluation. A teacher is the facilitator who carries a student to a stage where he/she can make his/her own destiny. But is teaching only about the process of teaching and learning? I gave this some thought. A teacher is also an evaluator; we have to judge the knowledge of our students. This isn’t an easy process and requires a deep insight into the human psyche and its different layers.

Evaluation is a word with a broad scope. Most believe that evaluation only means correcting answer scripts. However, evaluation is more a way of helping the student identify his/her potential. In the Mahabharata, Drona wants to evaluate the power of concentration in his students and sets up a test. Drona’s intention is not to see how many fail the test but to see how many are focused enough to reach their goal. Similarly, in a class, a teacher asks questions to know what and how much his/her students understand and not to know what they don’t. Evaluation, therefore, acts as feedback for teachers to adjust their teaching accordingly.

Whenever I ask people to look at evaluation this way, I also tell them about an incident from the life of Mirra Alfassa or The Mother (Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry), who had a very humanistic approach to education. Once, she was going on her rounds in school and she overheard a teacher commenting on a student’s painting. The Mother was curious and asked the teacher what the matter was. The teacher had asked the children to draw and paint sunflowers. All the kids, except one, painted their sunflowers yellow. That one kid painted it blue. The teacher was mocking this picture. The Mother went to the child and caressed her. She then told the teacher that the child was right because it had seen a blue sunflower in its mind. A non-empathetic evaluation can curtail the creativity of a child leading him/her to be labelled as dull.

Hence the importance of evaluation shouldn’t be underestimated. A student’s answer script is a pointer to how instruction can be modified or reset. And again, one should only facilitate. The horse has to be made to drink on its own. The soul should be encouraged to make its own journey.

The author is a teacher of English at Sainik School Kodagu. He can be reached at

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