Thursday, September 24, 2009

Grade Time Already

Some schools that run on a 4 by 4 block schedule or some other quarter-year system are already sending out progress reports.  We definitely have become "grade conscious" in this country.  84% of students report that getting good grades is important to them, though only 54% are excited to tell their friends that they have gotten good grades.  


I came across this quote the other day by Derrick Jensen:  “Grades are a problem. On the most general level, they're an explicit acknowledgment that what you're doing is insufficiently interesting or rewarding for you to do it on your own. Nobody ever gave you a grade for learning how to play, how to ride a bicycle, or how to kiss. One of the best ways to destroy love for any of these activities would be through the use of grades, and the coercion and judgment they represent. Grades are a cudgel to bludgeon the unwilling into doing what they don't want to do, an important instrument in inculcating children into a lifelong subservience to whatever authority happens to be thrust over them.”


I have seen grades used this way.  I have heard teachers say, "If you want to do well on the test..." or "There may be a quiz tomorrow..." This works for some students, but not all.  And even when it works, it may not work in the way we want it to, if what we want is real learning and not just doing well on tests.  In my own experience, not every test I did well on was a true reflection of what I had learned.  I was an A student in calculus.  I don't know any calculus.


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