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Everyday Constitutional Assessments and Their Relevance to Formal Assessments


by Herve Varenne — 2014

Background: In anthropology and related disciplines, the term “assessment” refers to the everyday activities of ordinary people as they figure out what to do next given what others have just done. The assessments, in turn, constitute what is happening, whether in encounters between policeman and person in the street, or classroom lesson, or joking about a teacher, or giving birth in a hospital, blogging, etc.

Findings: This review article briefly summarizes the major findings in such research and its roots in American pragmatic thought.

Conclusion: The article then suggest how to apply this form of analysis to long historical conversations about the foundations of democracy, the assessment of what building a democracy must entail, particularly as it relates to an educated citizenry, and then to the ongoing assessments of whether goals are being met and what reforms may be needed (e.g. “No Child Left Behind,”) continuing with further assessments that constitute new realities that will be subjected to further assessments in the political sphere.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 116 Number 11, 2014, p. 1-8
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 17627, Date Accessed: 10/23/2017 8:33:06 PM

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About the Author
  • Herve Varenne
    Teachers College, Columbia University
    E-mail Author
    HERVÉ VARENNE is Professor of Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. A cultural anthropologist, his major interests center on the processes that produce particular conditions for human beings in history, and their consequences. He is the author, with Ray McDermott, of Successful Failure (Westview, 1998). Since then, he has written extensively about education, taken comprehensively, as the motor of cultural production and has edited three volumes in cooperation with Edmund W. Gordon.
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