Oh yes, let’s consider the “grade”. Nothing is off limits here, right? This is a place for the avant-guard, the risky, those who DARE speak “his name”, or whatever. Speak it.
We shall. His name is GRADE.
Why did it ever get decided that students’ work needed to be graded? Really. It’s not obvious, not to me. Couldn’t we just have people do their work, give them feedback, have them work on it some more, keep at it, make progress, and keep going? Why is it that THIS is a foreign approach? Seems to me that the idea that we need to assign a mark to a student’s work is the odd idea. Imagine the presentation when it was new:
“So, friends, today I come to present a new system of monitoring student progress. I say that when we consider a student’s work we evaluate it carefully and assign either a % or letter designation.”
“Why? What’s wrong with what we do now?”
“Well, this allows us to show a comparison of students. It allows us to chart the progress objectively and monitor advancement.”
“I don’t understand. We’ve been considering students’ work all along, seeing where improvement was needed, giving feedback, and they do better. They advance. It works pretty well. What’s the problem?”
This could go on… there isn’t a really solid explanation. When you think about it, if the idea of education is to help people learn some necessary things, then couldn’t we just do that? What do we gain from assigning a grade? Do grades help people learn? There’s no evidence of that. They may help some people NOT learn, by providing a distraction, by making the learning about something other than self-improvement.
Consider THAT. We have no real need of grades. Let’s make learning be about LEARNING – the pursuit of knowledge, not a grade-chasing game.