Using assessment can often help us grow, learn, and change. Educational appraisal is often used as a means of documenting our skills, knowledge, and even beliefs, in measurable terms that can be compared over time. However, self-evaluation, whether official or unofficial can be intimidating, depressing, and even scary. Many people avoid any form of assessment as to avoid feelings of failure, admitting inadequacies, and as a self-preservation mechanism.
People who avoid assessment often have several excuses such as, but not limited to:
· Evaluation is to satisfy others
· I don’t need to affirm what I believe as true
· Evaluation is only for professionals
· I don’t want to see myself on camera
· The objectives of the assessment are not my objectives
· I am successful and don’t need someone else to tell me that
· It costs too much
· By the time I find out, the evaluation will be dated
But, the truth is the truth and using assessment should be a welcomed addition to your horsemanship journey, there are no good excuses (trust me I’ve tried a few of them myself). How else are you to understand where you are and thus, plan where you want to be? You need to make short-term and long-term goals and this exercise in humility and reality is the starting point. There are many ways to assess your skills and I believe that using all of these strategies (or others you may think of) help create an environment conducive for clear and truthful reflection and future progress. There are many ways to understand where you are. Personally, I have used (and still use) many methods to assess my progress and thus foster progress. Here is a brief list of what I have done or am doing:
· Maintain a Savvy Club Membership (I’m a Gold Member) in order to have access to resources and support. I use these learning tools to assess what I know and to learn more.
· Review what educational materials I have in my library and which ones I’ve actually studied, make sure all materials are reviewed (several times).
· Purchase all new materials available for my library, review many times.
· Constantly take notes, memorize, and recite.
· Write a blog to reflect on my journey (you could also use a regular journal).
· Created quizzes and take them myself, several times over time.
· Use the Parelli Levels Assessment Criteria (pre-2009) as a self-assessment tool (I also used it to officially assess for Level 1 back in 2006 with my horse, Wilbur).
· Use the Parelli Levels Assessment Criteria (post-2009) (self assessment so far—will be doing official assessment as well).
· Video tape myself playing with my horse, review, work on areas where progress is needed.
· Invite horse friends, also on the Parelli journey, to view and comment on my skills, what do they see?
· Create play groups, play dates, and educational meetings to encourage progress within myself and others—networking and comparison with others.
· Create and am a member in several Parelli online groups-- networking and comparison with others.
I am finally ready to get back to more serious progress on my journey to Level 4 with Whiskey so today, I videotaped a 30 minute session with him. My goal was to see where I am and gear up to submit the L1/L2 Online assessment to Parelli. Some things I was interested in learning were: How do we look as partners? How well was I handling my tools? Was I communicating with my horse is a clear manner?
What I learned was that I did not look as proficient with my tools as I once did, that my horse and I were communicating fairly well but, he was invading my space too much, that my posture was not as good as I thought, and that overall, we were having fun. I also was able to note that one instance where he went right-brained felt more serious in person than it looked like on tape—how interesting. I look forward to getting back to where we were (pre-relocation from Virginia) and progressing as far as we can. The reality that the video gave me was telling and valuable but only because I looked at it seeking the truth. I plan to tape again and will do so, at least 3 times a week. I will continue to incorporate the other strategies I listed above as well. This is a process and takes time, dedication, and honest assessment.
My challenge to you is to discover an assessment method that works for you and do it. You will be pleasantly surprised on how easy it is once you are willing to discover the truth.