Evaluation5's Blog

July 28, 2011

Maria Joao Pires & Evaluation Practice

Filed under: behaviour, evaluation5.0 — capturingdevelopment @ 2:39 pm

Posted by Marlen Arkesteijn/CapturingDevelopment

What has Maria Joao Pires -the reknowed pianist- to with evaluation practice? Well, in first instance for most people likely nothing, but in my reality, or better,  in my brains Maria makes a great connection with evaluation.

It is already quite some years ago that I came across a documentary on Maria Joao Pires. In this documentary you see her students struggle with some of the most complex piano pieces, intertwined with shots of the gorgeous surroundings of her farm in Portugal. Although I am not a connaisseur, I guess the students played – technically- superb and showed great virtuosity!

Despite their virtuosity, Maria was -most of the time- not impressed. I do not recall exactly what she said, but it was very much in the line of ‘Yes, technically you played the piece very well, but tell me, why should you play this piece? What did you add to this piece? How did you interpret it? I want you to put your soul into this piece! Otherwise the piece could be played by anybody else. What makes your piece different from the (same) piece student X is playing?’ (after writing I found some clips on Youtube, aughh, memory is a feable thing; anyway for the point of this blog is does not make much difference ;-)).

 I am not saying that evaluators are piano players, but Maria has a point here, also for evaluators. As evaluators we need to have expertise (knowledge, technical, procedural and intellectual) as a ground rule. Without this expertise we are nowhere and not worth to be hired anyway. The question here is, is that enough? If we are virtuose in our expertise, does that suffice to be a ‘good’ evaluator?

During a diner gathering with other evaluators (organised by Evaluation 5.0), we discussed -part of- this topic.  A first additional qualification that good evaluators (in our view)  should have, we concluded, is proper behaviour. The outcomes of an evaluation are influenced by many different factors, but one we have a certain control over is our own behaviour. When we are directive, the evaluated very likely will be defensive or timid. When we are open, and are truly listening, the evaluated may be open too and share his or her mind.

But still, does this qualify us as good evaluators? Not necessarily. So do we need to put our soul into our work, just like the pianoplayers should according to Maria? I am not quite sure about that. But what we do need to do, is to be aware of our vision and motivation. What is it we are actually doing? Are we mainly earning money? Or do we want to contribute to a more just and sustainable world through our practice? Shouldn’t we first clarify our vision, and use our expertise and behaviour to contribute to that vision?

Not that I have my vision ready, but my, I could start trying and ask myself ‘why should I do this evaluation and not somebody else?’.

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