Yesterday afternoon, Dan had one of his internet global news channel things on to watch the fireworks in other parts of the world and we noted that the Chinese display was pretty pathetic. Of course, why should they be particularly impressive? It’s not their new year, is it? The Chinese NY this year is actually on Valentine’s Day. Do the Chinese make new year’s resolutions? Whenever one celebrates the dawning of the new year, however, one is expected to reflect on the year (or decade) just gone and plan for self-improvement. We like to feel chivvied into collective self-evaluation by a date. If you work in education, it would make more sense to use 1st September, rather than 1st January.
Education these days is all about getting children to evaluate their own progress and to set themselves targets. They must know what their minimum target grades are according to the assessment data and what they should be doing to achieve them all the time, not just once a year. Checking this is part of the school inspection process. Continuous reflection is considered an essential part of making children effective learners.
So, what use are annual targets? When writing your little list of resolutions, do you decide what the success criteria are going to be? Do you focus on what’s achievable based on your abilities and the limits of the possible? Do you have someone comment on them and suggest others? Probably not, because we’d feel like we were being examined. Vagueness and idealism are much less stressful.
So, I shall resolve in 2010 to get married, cook lots of lovely things and see friends more often. Which, ironically, are quite specific and achievable.