Edmund W. Gordon

Gergen and Gill have provided us with a radically different way of thinking about education as a whole. Building on the idea that education is ultimately relational process, they redefine what education is , and develop a framework for educational evaluation from a relational perspective, with implications for pedagogical and curriculum transformation. The book offers an alternative to our traditional approach to assessment which views teaching and learning as a process of depositing knowledge and measuring what is retained. Such an alternative is grounded in illustrative and implementable evaluative practice in classrooms, of teachers’ learning, and about the whole school’s processes. A splendid book!

— Edmund W Gordon, Richard March Hoe Professor of Education and Psychology, Emeritus Teachers College, Columbia University; John M Musser Professor of Psychology, Emeritus Yale University

James Mannion

The widespread practice of high-stakes testing, compulsory for all, demands that around one-third will fail on the basis that this somehow makes the passes of others more meaningful. On this specious reasoning, every year, many thousands of young people are branded failures in the most formative years of their life, with often devastating consequences. This deeply unethical practice should be stopped in its tracks. Clearly, however, education requires that we evaluate learning – and so we need practical, workable, scalable alternatives. In Beyond the Tyranny of Testing, Gergen and Gill take us beyond the stale, technical arguments about norm-referenced vs criterion-referenced assessment, by reconceptualising education as  relational, rather than individualistic, pursuit. If we accept that education should be more explicitly relational, collaborative and inclusive – and really, who could argue against this? – we find ourselves embracing more dialogic, collaborative approaches to teaching and learning that lead us to very different kinds of assessment practices – relational evaluation. This book pulls together a wealth of tried-and-tested alternatives to high-stakes testing that chart a clear course towards a fairer, more life-affirming education system that enables young people to locate themselves in a story of interbeing, rather than one of separation. I cannot recommend it highly enough!

— Dr James Mannion, Director, Rethinking Education; Bespoke Programmes Leader, UCL Institute of Education; co-author of Fear is the Mind Killer: Why Learning to Learn deserves lesson time – and how to make it work for your pupils

Loek Schoenmakers

This book is of great importance to education, as it makes a fundamental contribution to the dialogue on the role of evaluation in education. Calling into question the nature of testing, it offers an alternative orientation to the role of evaluation within educational processes. The challenge that Gergen & Gill confront with this invaluable publication is to re-enter into the dialogue about going beyond testing with possible alternatives. Students’ learning is paramount, and evaluation ought to be in its service. Isn’t this what education is about? The idea of evaluation in favour of learning – changes educational practices dramatically. From a relational standpoint it invites new possibilities, including transforming students and teachers into learning partners. A must read for both educators and educational leaders!

— Loek Schoenmakers (PhD), Educational Specialist, Teacher Trainer, School Advisor, and CEO of Appreciative Change Works, The Netherlands.