Measurement & Evaluation

Not that we have the audacity to

venture to class or even to compare ourselves with some who exalt and furnish testimonials for themselves! However, when they measure themselves with themselves and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding and behave unwisely.

2 Corinthians 10:12

I’ve, perhaps, never been so acutely aware of how measurement obsessed our Western society has become (perhaps the East is just the same). We exist in a continual process of being measured and measuring. Evaluating, judging, weighing. Is it any wonder that safety and trust are major tropes in personal and corporate coping?

Two of the courses I’m currently taking are Measurement and Evaluation, and Famous Feminists in Humanities/History-this is what I notice most. We measure Everything!

Implicitly and explicitly, unawares and aware we are calculating, weighing and judging ourselves, each other, and all we come into contact with. For better or for worse.

It should be no surprise that people daily expend copious amounts of energy in emotional labour the moment, or before, their eyes open each morning. Measuring and being measured in multiple manners daily, year upon year, context to context wears.

Frankly, it can be exhausting. It adds to our sense of condemnation and creates insidious drive to try to present ourselves in some perfect facade.

Where did this less than plucky vein of thought flow from? All of this because of red ink and a B grade with comments that didn’t stroke my sense of accomplishment, (not to mention it’s only one of many “first” assignments and in a course with content and documentation I’m unfamiliar with, and have some regrets toward).

Somehow, momentarily, her red ink and not one positive remark fairly shouted from the page, “Welcome back to being average.” Self translation: I’m a B. Internal mood scale: dropping.

I’m surprised, because identity has been a specific focus for me for a couple years or more, and Ive changed tremendously; so even though I’m sporting a 3.7 GPA and have been on the honors list several times in my education journey, it’s odd how receiving a B can still change my countenance and mood. Even briefly. It makes me aware of implicit standards I have set for myself. Non failure=A, preferably A+.

Oh the dread power of a symbol and color! I’m reevaluating. No, the power is in the inference. That is a primary theme in my measurements course.

We can never really measure a person. We can only attempt to measure very small aspects of their behavior at a certain moment in time. Then we make many inferences through our own lenses and based out of our own learning history. The rest is illusionary.

So this is what I want to say:

Don’t let yourselves feel vulnerable based on a world system that has confounded the variables and added error into the measurement instruments, before you even showed up on the scene. They’re not reliable, nor valid for measuring you as a person.

That isn’t to say we shouldn’t grow, or reach for goals. It just means we can let some pressure off ourselves and others. It means we need to realize we are inferring from often inadequate and only partial information. We never have the whole picture or person in our view.

Our evaluations are a drop in the ocean of reality. But we have been programmed from birth, so, it’s going to take some mindfulness to reboot to the new system.

In Christ we function according to a new operating system; it takes us time to learn these new commands and key functions so it runs smoothly in our day to day realities. But as we learn, everything begins to function better, and we experience Freedom from incessantly measuring and comparing.

That’s why I love the opening verse of this post; I’m reminded that perfect performance is not my call, it’s not the highest gain and I can treat failures and less than perfection as learning instead of my identity. In this I am learning what true wisdom is. Being accepted in the beloved is where we find our life and being. The rest is a mere fiction.

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