I’m starting to understand my own resistance to the use of psychometric tools in helping students learn (and in understanding myself): the exercise can seem narcissistic, and it can also run contrary to American cultural thinking about the primacy of change, and how important it is, and how easy change is to accomplish.
I think I’m starting to question that mythology (despite the brilliance of Office Space which should have helped me figure that out a long time ago). I have always thought that continuous improvement is the ultimate in capitalist/corporatist maintain-the-wage-slave-drudgery, but I still buy into constantly improving myself, those around me, and our culture at large.
What psychometric tools do in some ways is to challenge that myth, or at least the ease with which it is accomplished. I understand that they are mired in the idea that these sorts of tools help us improve, but I’m starting to wonder if that improvement isn’t of a hugely different type than the utopic vision that we all seem to buy into. What these tools do is help us understand just how important understanding where we are is, and how much effort any sort of change involves.
The neuroscience (what little I understand of it) confirms this view I think. I heard an audio essay on NPR last night that talked about the idea of toxic stress and how that sort of stress, especially when encountered early in one’s life, hardwires the brain. Hard wires are truly difficult to reroute, and perhaps by accepting the difficulty of that sort of task we can get a better idea of how to help others in changing even our more-easily-reroutable programming.
Edit: the toxic stress connection, I think, is a key element in connecting to questions of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation. As this article points out, there is clearly much work to be done here, but perhaps psychometric tools can help.