Thursday, March 4, 2010
Grades are artifically sabotaging one kid at a time
I can remember asking a very intelligent student of mine a few questions about grades. Here is how it went:
Me: What would you consider to be a good grade?
Student: I have to get honors.
Me: Why do you have to?
Student: My parents expect me too.
Me: What happens when you get honors?
Student: I get money, and I stop.
Me: You stop what?
Student: Learning. Why would I need to learn more if I have honors.
Me: *thud* (that was the sound of my jaw dropping)
It's sad but true. Grades make kids think of learning in a linear fashion. (I've written about this before when I discussed asymptotes). And because they come to see learning as linear, they start to see education as a destination rather than a journey.
This is no small problem. Just look at what she said. She said that she stopped once she achieved her goal. She said she stops... *thud* (that was my jaw again)
I don't know about you, but if we do anything to discourage learning in any way, we have got to stop doing it. Dont' we?
This student, like so many others, didn't even need this fabricated incentive to learn. Rather than encouraging her to learn more, grades were actually artifically sabotaging her.
I stopped giving grades 5 years ago. When will you?
For more on abolishing grading, check out this page.