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Berdelmann, Kathrin:

Individuality in numbers
The emergence of pedagogical observation in the context of student assessment

In: Alarcón, Cristina; Lawn, Martin (Hrsg.): Assessment cultures Berlin : Lang (2018) , 57-83

Studia educationis historica, 3


4. Beiträge in Sammelwerken; Sammelband (keine besondere Kategorie)

Beobachtung, Schüler, Leistungsbeurteilung, Bildungsgeschichte, Verhalten, Dokumentation, Aufklärung (Epoche), Schülerleistung, Belohnung, Basedow, Johann B., Niemeyer, August H., Schulorganisation, Individualisierung, 18. Jahrhundert, Dessau, Halle a.d. Saale

The paper shows that in the light of the changing assessment culture [in the 18th century], the disciplinary formation of pedagogical observation was permeated by elements of both individualisation and standardisation - both of which are typical for modern society. This is to say that observation, a new tool for producing knowledge about and insights into the students, was expected to capture their singularity, their individual traits and potentials and to enable an almost psychological view into their inner core, while at the same time accomplishing equity and comparability. This is also associated with the slowly emerging meritocratic system. A consequence was that observation developed with a particular methodology; the student was perceived according to different criteria, and the observations were documented in multi-levelled processes. In this larger context, this paper focuses on the system of merits (Meritenwesen) that was implemented in philantropic model schools as a student assessment practice, and which was embedded in a framework of merits and desire for honours. The systematic observation and assessment of students against the background of a sophisticated system of merits (Meriten), which students could gain by demonstrating certain behaviours, was a vital demand on teachers. This demand explicitly shaped the daily routines of teachers and their exchanges with their colleagues at the Dessauer Philantropin. In the following, after outlining some basic characteristics about the philantropic education, the author will introduce the merit board (Meritentafel), and the merit books (Meritenbücher), which were among the most important documentations of student behaviour at this school (2). While also considering each student individually, these artefacts show evidence of the standardisation of student observation within a practice of student assessment (3). The particular form in which the student came into view, and was constructed by observation, is even more conspicuous when compared to the quarterly censur (Vierteljahrescensur). The quarterly censur was a system of student observation and assessment that was implemented only a few years later at another prominent Prussian school (4). There observation was constructed in distinction from Dessau's merit regime. In this sense, the Paedagogium Regium of Halle serves as contrasting example. Although both schools implemented new assessment techniques in the last third of the 18th century, the comparison will show that not only did the focus of observation forms of documentation in student assessment differ; so, too, did the information to be gained about the students and the pedagogical consequences thereof. The differing forms of observation produce a particular image of the child: a child as a highly individual being who has to be conceived of in his difference and individuality, or a child who had to be recognised individually but simultaneously must be measured according to certain standardized criteria and only takes on form in relation to other students and their behaviour. (DIPF/Orig.)

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