Change is in the air in the education sector with schools now wrestling with the challenge of how to implement the newly introduced assessment framework, CCE (Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation). Over the past few weeks in my workshops for educators, I have mentioned this latest three-letter acronym, only to be met with responses ranging from grimaces to chuckles. While all of us express our deep desire for change, we struggle when it comes to the actual implementation. And many a times we scoff at those who dare to take a practical step into uncharted territory.
I can commiserate with my colleagues in the teaching fraternity. Some find the concept vague and impractical. Many don’t have the time, energy, or resources required to decode it and figure out how to make it work in their particular contexts. I can even muster up a smidgen of understanding for those who, finding it hard to kick old habits, have chosen to carry out CCE through written tests and assignments (and who have been censured by the CBSE Chairman for doing so!).
Even though CCE doesn’t get everything right, it’s a step in the right direction – an attempt to enable us to identify and celebrate the uniqueness of each child, and thereby build on students’ strengths so they can achieve their potential. It is not a perfect system. Not nearly. But it is at least a license for educators to look at children beyond the rigid evaluative confines of marks and exam results – and an opportunity for us to mold things the way we want them.
When a software company creates a first version of a product, the product usually solves certain problems that delight users, but creates others due to certain flaws and a lack of features. However, the fact that an actual product exists (as opposed to an idea for a product), provides an opportunity for customers to give their feedback so the product can be improved. In order to circumvent a program’s shortcomings or limitations, users often create their own improvements in the form of mini-programs called “apps” or “plug-ins”, which provide additional features and functionality. Whether it’s an extension that enables you to type Hindi in your word processor or a tool that lets you upload photos from your phone to your blog, user-created add-ons have greatly enhanced our productivity with the major applications that have been bestowed upon us by the Microsofts, Apples, and other digital powers that be.
It is here that I would like to apply the plug-in analogy to the Multiple Natures model and CCE.
In short, you can think of MN (Multiple Nature) as a plug-in to the “CCE Application” that highlights qualities of a student that are critically important, yet missing in the framework. For instance, while “thinking skills”, “emotional skills”, and “social skills” appear in the CCE model, there is no mention of Providing Nature (the tendency to help others), nor a reference to “Administrative Nature (the tendency to get work accomplished). MN also includes Entertaining Nature (attracting attention and amusing people), Protective Nature (protecting or preserving things), and Entrepreneurial Nature (creating value through ventures). These Natures, along with four others (Healing, Educative, Adventurous, and Creative) comprise the 9 Multiple Natures—core behavioral dispositions that form the basis of an individual’s personality.
Connecting Multiple Natures into the assessment framework extends the power of CCE in the following ways. First, it enables students to pick the right streams and career paths according to their natures – an element that is sorely missing from the current tools available. Second, it helps students see the value of important qualities that do not currently appear on the radar screen of CCE. Third, in the hands of an able teacher or counselor, MN can inspire the blossoming of a bud: When children discover that they are not merely the sum total of their ability to juggle numbers or use language effectively, but that equally important are, their capacities to teach, manage, or protect others (qualities they possess that have till date received little or no recognition), their selfconcept transforms immensely. They can finally make the greatest, most liberating leap in learning – the metamorphosis that occurs when individuals realize that they do not exist for school, studies, and exams, but the opposite: that education exists to help them understand themselves better, figure out where they fit in, know where they need to go, and determine what they need to do to get there.
CCE is here to stay. The choice is ours of whether we decide to resist it, or to embrace and shape it into the tool we want. I have chosen the latter. And who knows – perhaps one day Multiple Natures will be adopted directly into CCE as a standard feature (as often happens in the case of really good plugins). But until then, I do know that those who have decided to “install” it are thoroughly enjoying its full, rich set of features and the enhanced educational productivity that comes along with it.
The author is an American educator, TV personality, public speaker and bestselling author based in India. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.