A Paradigm Shift Evaluation Metric

You evaluators know far better than I do that an evaluation metric can be a powerful catalyst for higher-order learning, not just a way of assessing what someone has learned. Ideally, a meaningful metric gives people the opportunity to articulate new understanding their minds have cognitively processed but of which they’re not yet consciously aware. The little metric I’ve designed here is intended to catalyze higher-order learning of this type so it can help drive the paradigm shift you want to achieve. It has two writing prompts, one about sustainability and the other about Indigenous and Western ways of knowing. Please write from the top of your head, from where you are and what you know right now. Don’t look anything up or do any research to respond to the prompts. Then put your written responses aside in a safe place, and leave them there until you reach the second metric after you’ve completed most of the learning exercise.

  1. As best you understand it, how would you define a sustainable system (for example, for transportation, energy, or food)? What do you think a sustainable system should look like? What features would make it sustainable? (Important note: I realize sustainability doesn’t seem to fit the topic of mitigating natural hazards. But please trust the process.)
  2. Read the passage below, and then write out what it means to you (what you get out of it).

“We have reduced our knowledge of the world and the possibility of understanding and relating environment to a wholly mechanical process. We have become dependent, ultimately, on this one quarter of human experience, which is to reduce all human experience to a cause-and-effect situation. As Indians look out at the environment and as Indians experience a living universe, relationships become the dominating theme of life and the dominating motif for whatever technological or quasi-scientific approach Indian people have to the land. Indians do not simply learn survival skills or different ways to shape human utensils out of other natural things. In shaping those things, people have the responsibility to help complete their life cycles as part of the universe in the same way they are helping people. Human beings are not above nature or above the rest of the world. Every species needs to give to every other species in order to make up a universe” (Deloria 1999: 225-226).

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