The last few days, I’ve been watching slide shows on great Renaissance artists put together by my sixth graders. It’s been an interesting experience. Some of them are bad, some of them are good, none of them are great. I’ve been wondering why.
I’ve been wondering why so much, that I sat down with a colleague this morning to try to understand what’s been going on. Between us, we came up with a theory. Parents and kids wanted a rubric (rubric comes from the Latin word for “red” so shouldn’t Rubric be in red?), so we designed a rubric that’s easy to follow, but concentrated on final product — so many slides, so many pictures, delivered in this amount of time, and so on.
What we failed to do is rubric-ize the research process — the deep dive, in the language of Design Thinking. We didn’t do a good enough job of teaching kids how to go about collecting, collating, organizing and sorting information. The presentation — the final product — gets all the attention in the Rubric, because that’s what the students want: “How will I get graded? What must the final product look like?”
But all my best presentations — yours too — have been as a result of getting deeper into the research process, and digging for the kinds of details that make for compelling stories.
Can you make a rubric that shows someone how to do research? Is there a process that allows for that?
Steve Martin in a movie (I forget which) says that “sometimes you have to change from the outside, in.” He helps another character into a new sport coat, showing him how to dress to impress. Is there a way to learn how to be a researcher by searching from the outside in?
I’m sorry I don’t have an answer. I wish I did. Maybe you, the readers, do.