No Grades? No Problem!
Is this not the hope and dream of high schoolers, and middle schoolers across America(along with no ACT, SAT, homework, and quite possibly school in general)
(although the latter half is not quite as feasible) their dream could quite possibly become the next reality… at least Cathy Davidson — author of “Now You See It” — and Tim Robbins — professor at Graceland University — agree with me that it could become the next innovation in education.
OK, I’m somewhat biased in saying this, but the current get-”A”-good-grade-or-”F”ail-at-life system is horrible (the bias comes from 1/2 my life being under this system). I say this knowing that it has been very (although I hate to say it) advantageous for me. Because of this system, I graduated with an above 4.0 GPA and was able to get into my #1 choice college with a decent scholarship.
In second grade, I was the kid that went to the library to learn. I would check out every sciency book I could find, read it for fun, and try to apply it to my life (if you can imagine, I was also a kind of socially awkward kid, but that is not important). I was excited for third grade because, it meant I would get a letter grade! My teachers had been hyping the magical letter grade since kindergarten. I thought that the letter grade would be a tool that would accelerate my learning just like an object falling towards the earth (by second grade, I already knew that objects fall towards the earth at 32 ft/s/s).
In third grade, I was proven wrong. Instead of accelerating my learning, it decelerated my learning (and yes I know this is just an acceleration with a negative coefficient). I had gotten an F on a homework just for mispeling a few words. I had used all the words correctly in the sentences, I even had a better vernacular than most third graders, but none of that mattered; I still got an F. Since that assignment, I have done pretty well in school, but that assignment had set off my dislike for the system of grades.
The main thing I have learned from school is how to not get an F. I’ve learned to only give what the teachers want, how to learn for the test not for the knowledge. I still managed to learn quite a bit: I still had my love to for knowledge, but this was my second priority — the test came first.
so, if you have managed to make it thus far through my blog post, you must have realized that I’ve been complaining quite a bit about the grading system. And as a personal rule, if I’m going to complain this much, I have to have a solution. So the big question; what is my solution? My solution is a participation based / (almost) Socratic seminar system. You can still assign homework, tests, quizzes, etc., but you can ask questions like “Which question did you think was the most challenging?”, “Why do you think you got __ wrong?”, or “What are your general thoughts on __?”. You could even have students bring their own questions into class. These questions can help students understand the answer instead of just knowing that the correct answer was C.