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Our experience has corroborated the theoretical principle that self-evaluation is the most desirable mode of appraisal in a student-centered course. The greater the freedom to use self-evaluation in such a situation, the more obviously favorable have been the results. Students experience the task of self-appraisal as one more opportunity for growth. They experience with wonderment the fact that no one is going to utilize an external locus of evaluation. FEAR AND DISTRACTION If your head is tripping out on fear of losing your job, that's a great distraction from the project due tomorrow. Give in to the fear and it may become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Yet the distraction is compelling. After all, it is effective at taking you away from your present-tense pain. FEAR AND SOCIAL LEARNING We learn about fear socially. Babies learn to fear unsafe aspects of their environment, such as a hot stove, by following cues from their parents. Social learning is not exclusively positive, however. It can also breed a damaging level of fear. We quit sitting on boards, stop volunteering, and instead stay home and watch videos and eat popcorn. During the Great Recession, Andrew located a group of people across the world who had been hit the hardest by economic strife but who were, surprisingly, testing through the roof on resilience. He dubbed them The Marathon Club because of their hardiness. These people had lost their homes and their jobs, and many were living hand to mouth, but somehow, they never lost their faith that they would pull through. What united these people was that they all instinctively knew to reach out to others when things were at their worst. There was Brandon, a young man from Albany, New York, who had just graduated with his master's when the recent recession hit.

He sent off four hundred job applications, with no success. His wife, Amanda, had been guaranteed a teaching job but was told that the person who was vacating that position decided not to leave with the economy being what it was. The odds felt stacked against them. But Brandon and Amanda decided to do the one thing that was calling out to them, rather than worry about their prospects. They do not need to tremble for fear they will be failed; The question for each student is -- What is my honest appraisal of what I have done, as it relates to my own purposes? There is not even any gain to come from inflating the self-appraisal. As one student writes, I started to make this pretty rosy, but who would I be kidding, and why should I kid myself? To carry through a self-evaluation is often a most difficult task. It means that the student must formulate his criteria of evaluation, must decide on the standards that he has for himself. It means experiencing to the full the implications of discovering that, in the long run, the locus of evaluation lies in one's self. Something of the flavor of this experience will be conveyed in the next section, where quotations will be given from documents concerned with self-evaluation. Let us now turn, however, to another phase of this problem of evaluation. Most instructors are working in institutional frameworks in which the operational philosophy is almost directly opposed to that which we have been presenting. Consider the current media context where multiple news outlets and social media networks compete with one another by exploiting bad news and constantly pushing out alarmist and sensationalist stories about violence. At times news and social media (our social environment) teach us that the world is a scary, dangerous place, and without well-developed skills at media literacy and the ability to put what you read into context, it's easy to spin out into fear and anxiety. TYING IT ALL TOGETHER As psychiatrists Arash Javanbakht and Linda Saab explain, what ties together these factors--context, distraction, and social learning--is our sense of control. That perception of control is critical to how we experience and respond to fear--and how the fear lodges in our body. How much agency you have just may be the key factor explaining how injustice gets under your skin.

The more control we have over our lives, the lower our risk for disease. Social hierarchy and the stress response have inspired much research demonstrating that where you stand in society can govern how triggered you are by stress. One investigation examined the role of executive stress5 by studying full-time workers in either business or the military who were taking executive education classes at Harvard Business School. They classified the participants as either leaders, defined as those whose job required them to manage other people, or nonleaders. Breast cancer was prevalent in his family, and he had become aware that women of his generation were at special risk because they weren't getting screened. So the couple went out on the road, from state to state, using social media to gather crowds together and educating people on the importance of early detection. They called it their Kick Breast Cancer's Butt Tour. Brandon's life might have not been exactly as he wanted it to be at that point in life, and yet he scored off the charts on life satisfaction because he was connected to a greater purpose. There were Roxanne and Peter, a couple who had lost their home and their jobs during this time. They were living on disability, down to their last pennies. With just enough money left for one tank of gas, they decided to spend that tank of gas driving to a memorial service for the family of Don Yoon, whom they had never met. Don Yoon's wife and young children were killed when a fighter jet crashed into their house in the San Diego suburbs, and Roxanne and Peter had seen his despair when he was interviewed on television. Something prompted them to reach out to this man in need, even though they themselves were scraping rock bottom. Like Brandon and Amanda, though their circumstances appeared bleak, their outlook was bright, and their life satisfaction and resilience sky-high. The student must be motivated to work; Is it, then, impossible for a teacher to handle his class in a student-centered fashion in such a framework? We have not found it so, though admittedly there must be some compromises, if we are to advance by evolutionary rather than revolutionary means. Again, the problems lose their overwhelming character if the instructor is clear in his own philosophical approach to the situation. Grades and evaluation simply become one more limitation imposed by the environment, one more problem which the students and the instructor must solve. The instructor poses his dilemma to the group.

The university demands that I sign my name to the grades given to all the members of the class, indicating that they have performed at a certain level. How do you wish to meet that problem? Operating in such a framework, any solution is less than perfect, but various classes have arrived at working solutions which have made for far more growth than the conventional approach. Some of these may be listed. The leaders in both business and the military showed substantially lower levels of stress than the nonleaders, as determined by surveys of anxiety and biological measures of cortisol. These results echo a massive research study of British government employees that has been collecting data since the 1960s. People in this study are all insured under Britain's national system, so no differences in their access to health care can cloud the results. The data indicates that those in higher-ranking jobs have better health and longer lifespans. Each pay grade down the hierarchy is associated with more stress-related health problems. When we describe executive work as stressful, we ought to put that into context. Executives may have more emails in their inbox than they can get to or work longer hours, but in most cases they have power over when and how to deal with challenges. They can take bathroom breaks when they want. They can take a cab when their car breaks down. They can hire a nanny when their kid is too sick to go to school. Things don't need to be at their worst to make this skill worthwhile. Just like you don't want to learn to use a nail gun the day you're building your house, you want to master the tools of connection long before you need them. Let's get you more connected. Take Action Statistically, you're probably at a Level Two, and that's a wonderful place to start. To expand your connection circle, you need to add community (Level Three) and spiritual (Level Four) connections to your life.

Here's how. EXPAND TO LEVEL THREE Begin by thinking about your specific interests. Is there a particular population you'd like to help (eg, kids, the elderly, single moms)? In some courses students have formulated the examination by submitting questions and have participated in its evaluation. In one small class where the students were acquainted with each other's work, they decided to arrive at grades in an open class discussion at the end of the course. Each student stated the grade he felt he had earned, and gave his reasons. The group and instructor entered into the discussion and each grade was arrived at by a general concurrence of opinion. In some universities a grade of Pass or Fail can be turned in. Utilizing this, classes have accepted a P grade, permitting self-evaluation to be the real judgment on their work. In some courses each student has written out a self-evaluation including his judgment as to an appropriate letter grade for himself. The understanding is that the instructor will turn in this grade unless he feels that he cannot agree with it, in which case the grade will be arrived at in conference between student and teacher. These represent a few of the many compromise approaches which have been made. Even the most faulty ones have these advantages. They have much more control over how their time is spent than the administrative assistant who schedules their appointments or the janitor who cleans their office. Understanding the importance of being able to exert control over our lives is the key factor in understanding how to protect ourselves. There are always ways to find more agency within the context of your life. We are active in our lives, not merely shaped. For example, you may not be able to call the shots at your fast food job, but that doesn't mean you can't captain your pickup basketball team. You could even organize a political fundraiser to enhance your sense of agency in your life.