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Evaluation, Standards, Normalization: Historico-philosophical Formations and the Conditions of Possibility for Checklist Thought Bernadette Baker University of Wisconsin-Madison In education today a new vocabulary has emerged that is far more than just words. In the context of educational policy the setting of goals or objectives is now being subsumed under terms such as statewidestandards, child development is now being adjectivized by descriptors such as learning disability or emotionally disturbed, and the evaluation ofclassroom-based performance is now being collated in aportfolio. These are more than just buzz words-at one level they are new ways of governing children and teachers, of organizing action, and of perceiving the world. What, for instance, does it tell us about ourselves when first-grade students Mikey, Enrique, Waldo, orDonal are introduced to visitors to the school by labels such as LD, ED, ADD, ADHD, and so forth, rather thanby their name? What does it tell us about ourselves when we say a curriculum or program of study is in line with the standards established somewhere else? And what story do we think is being narratedin the documentation of a child's performance in portfolio form across a semester or year? In consideringwhyterms suchasstandards, child development, or even evaluation have such contemporary currency I am necessarily drawn into a study of the timespaces in which they did not have such currency at all. This paper maps four moves into a moment that I think of as a rather long present-day-a present that is not simply this morning, yesterday, or the daybefore, but one that links the subjectivities ofthose now living in educational workto those made available about one hundred years ago. The four moves that I analyze here can be thought of as conditions of possibility for the operation of contemporary educational mies of reasoning, especially those that have formed around the resurgent popularity of"checklist thought" in reform efforts. The four moves collectively historicize how notions of standards, child development, and evaluation can pop up as commonsensical tropes through which to gather and degather action in the educational field. The first ofthese moves is that which flows from the operation ofan ideal to the operation of a norm. The second move is that which flows between the advent of statistics and the advent of eugenics. The third move is that which flows between the appearance ofnovels and fiction and the novel ficticityoffacts. And the fourth move is that which flows from the fictions of child development narratives to the stories that standards tell us. Collectively, these historico-philosophical moves will enable reconsideration of what we think evaluation, standards, and norms for child development actually narrate, lending food for thought to the specificityoftheir uptake in music education. From Ideal to Norm One way inwhichto examinethe shift from a seventeenth-century concept of the ideal to the nineteenth-century concept of the norm is by telling a story that was told in the early twentieth century. At this time when the educational field was formalizing, there was great care taken to record discussions held at conferences. When conferenceproceedings werepublished, theywere usually structured so that the presenter's paper┬ęPhilosophy ofMusic Education ReviewlO, no. 1 (Fall, 2002): 92-101. Bernadette Baker 93 was followed by a transcript of the conversation held after it. Like today, in the discussion time, audience members asked questions or made comments. Unlike today, the names of such participating audience members were typed into the proceedings and their specific questions or comments were written up as part ofreporting on the paper presented. In a discussion held at a conference in 1 905 on the topic of methods for training children labeledas feebleminded, apresenterhadspokenof the positive uses of a vegetable garden in the disciplining of feebleminded girls. The audience members relayed their own versions of experimenting with gardening and gathering, some complaining oftoo little space and others indicating the effects of having too many fields from which to gather. Dr. Dunlap was one such participant , indicatingimplicitlytheeffectsofhavingtoo many choices. In the spirit ofthe hunter/gatherer dichotomy, thegirlslabeledas feeblemindedatthe institutionwhereDr. Dunlap worked weresentout to pick com. The following story emerged. Dr. Dunlap: Our girls go out under an attendant and gather vegetables...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1543-3412
Print ISSN
1063-5734
Pages
pp. 92-101
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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