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Education, Assessment, and the Desire for Dissonance


Yusef Waghid and Nuraan Davids

Education, Assessment, and the Desire for Dissonance aims to address the contentious practice of assessment in schools and universities within a poststructuralist educational paradigm. Within the theoretical paradigm of Foucault’s (1994) notions of governmentality, subjectification and dissonance, the book examines why, through which and in which ways (how) educational assessment should unfold considering the challenges of globalized and cosmopolitan dimensions of educational change that have beset educational institutions. Waghid and Davids show how conceptual derivatives of Foucauldian governmentality, in particular the notions of power, panopticon and surveillance, dispositive, freedom and resistance—as relational concepts—affect assessment in universities and schools. The authors argue why universities and schools cannot be complacent or non-responsive to current understandings and practices of assessment. In the main, the authors contend that a Foucauldian notion of powerful, subjectified and dissonant assessment can, firstly, be extended to an Agambenian (2011) notion of a profane, denudified and rhythmic form of assessment; and secondly, be enhanced by a Derridian (1997) idea of friendship that bridges a Foucauldian view of governmental assessment with an Agambenian view of ethical assessment. Friendship allows people to act responsibly towards one another—that is, teachers and students acting responsibility towards one another—and resonates with an ongoing pursuit of rhythmic assessment practices. Such a form of assessment opens up an attentiveness to the incalculable and unexpected encounters that bear the responsibility of acting with one another. The authors conclude that an assessment with teaching and learning can transcend the limitations of an assessment of learning and an assessment for learning.

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Chapter 10. Teaching and Learning Without Assessment


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In this chapter, we consider the implications of teaching and learning without assessment. This is not to say that we wish to discount assessment, or deem it as antithetical to teaching and learning. Rather, we concur with Biesta (2009a) that teaching informed by friendship orientates teachers toward a more complex understanding of what it is that they are actually doing when they teach. Teaching therefore allows for the acknowledgment of the ambiguity that inevitably marks any action directed towards a perceived good. Following on this, we are interested in understanding which types of learning and teaching might unfold in a classroom where teaching and learning are not geared towards a predetermined set of measurable outcomes.

“A community without community” in/about assessment

In response to the concern that teaching and learning be enacted without assessment, we return to Derrida’s (1997) notion of a “community without community.” In taking into account a more nuanced explication of a “community without community,” it is necessary to bear in mind that Derrida’s often expressed uneasiness with the concept of community, has led him to ← 133 | 134 → either remove the term from his texts, or, when he does use it, to neutralize it by using quotation marks. Morin (2006), for instance, points out that Derrida recognizes the necessity of putting community under erasure—that is, to remove it from its metaphysical interpretation as presence or...

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