The Yancy article got me thinking, do we all need evaluation as much as this article says we do? Yancy quotes one woman, a housewife, who cannot quantify her success as a parent without grades or salary increases, but wonders if she knows she has done a good job if she is simply exhausted at the end of the day. Yancy finds this alarming and recommends the use of self reflection to avoid students “… dependent on external rewards, not knowing where to begin to consider their own performances” (Yancy 13). This made me wonder, how dependent are we on external rewards like evaluation? Is evaluation our “carrot” for doing things well, a motivation in itself?
I blogged a little while ago about how much I wanted my Poetry professor to give us back our essays already so I could find out how I did. If anything is indicative of a dependence on external reward, that blog post probably is (I got a “B” by the way which is perfectly acceptable). I mean, I am a little over-excited by comments on my essays, even for the bad ones. Because otherwise, I really have no idea if my writing is any good or not.
As much as I don’t really agree with Yancy’s high estimation of self-reflection (we’re students, we’re not entirely qualified to make judgments about most writing because we are still learning, we obviously have incentive to absolutely love our own work, we all have a healthy sense of self-flagellation which makes us hate our own work, etc.) I definitely recognize this external locus of evaluation as problematic. An external locus of anything can be difficult to deal with, as the world is unlikely to continue to provide an exact measure of how well we are doing on each task we complete.
Deciding the worth of the things you do on your own is actually pretty important, for the sake of continuing to do things, and for the sake of learning after people stop telling you what to learn. This can be applied in anywhere in life. It would be super-helpful if the Grand Poobah of Life, the Universe, and Everything would just reach down from the clouds and inform you that your last relationship is going to making you fail “Interpersonal Connections” unless you fix your communication problems and improve your loser-spotting skills in the next one. However, this is not the case. Honest self-evaluation is absolutely necessary for figuring out what you are doing that works, what you are doing that doesn’t work, and why.