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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Evaluations and Drudgery

I have not been an admirer of  evaluation systems in hospitals for physicians and nurses, or at any other place for that matter. Nor am I an admirer of a system where everyone has to account for every minute of their time, particularly in childhood and during education. I am for choosing the “correct candidate” and give them an atmosphere of excellence and support to learn. They will grow and develop. Some may not grow, of course. I do agree that the problem of defining the “correct candidate” is a tough one. Even if one can develop criteria for such a candidate, how can one spot them? It is certainly not possible during a short interview. Some executives will say that they know how to spot talent, although several studies have shown that this claim does not stand to scrutiny. The only two ways I know how to choose a “correct candidate” are to look at their past activities and performance and at their passion for the task they choose.

Two great educators have commented on “evaluations” several decades back.  Carl Rogers said in essence that when you “evaluate” a human being, you “devalue” them.  John Dewey said that external evaluation is inimical to growth, and self-evaluation is more effective in learning and improving. The reason this practice is prevalent because it is easier to do when dealing with large number of people and it has a number attached to it. It is easier to document for comparisons. It also happens that some managers use evaluations  to “fire” someone they do not particularly like!

John Dewey compares children’s play and adult’s work. In play, the end result is not important; the process is. In adult work, the end is the priority. Process is not. If the end result is something to be proud of or meaningful, one can transfer that satisfaction to the process of work and enjoy it. If not, work becomes unpleasant.  John Dewey says: “Exclusive interest in the result alters work into drudgery”. (Incidentally the word “robot” means drudgery or serf labor or hard work in the Czech language, coined by Josef Kopec. This word “robot” was used for the first time in literature by his brother Karel Kopec in his famous play called Rossum’s Universal Robots or R U R, published in 1921)

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