A blog post I read earlier this week sparked a conversation between my husband and I about our childrens futures in the school systems. The author, Joe Bower, wrote a post about communicating with his daughters Kindergarten teacher about opting out of grading and instead giving more feedback. I instantly loved this idea and his letter to the teacher as I am one of those "crazy" parents that believes in attachment parenting and babywearing so obviously I would connect with the idea of promoting my childs learning without reducing their knowledge to a letter or number. My husband, on the other hand, thought the whole idea was completely ridiculous and was just another way for parents to be controlling. Obviously we had drastically different opinions on this topic, which we usually do, and he is still not sold on the whole idea even after an hour long conversation and research on the subject but I still like it and would consider it when my children reach that age.
Bowers post on this subject also caused quite the stir from other readers as well from people saying that he was being a controlling parent and undermining teachers to people (like me) who completely agree with his idea and have saved his letter draft for their own person use in their children's future. I like to be as objective as I can on subject because I believe all people should be able to voice their opinions so I do understand where some people were coming from (although they could be a little ridiculous and harsh at times). With that being said, I don't think that he had the intent of undermining teachers abilities to teach, considering he is a teacher himself. I think that teachers are very effective at their jobs, if not then I would choose to homeschool, and often the teachers are just following rules from such laws as NCLB in which they have to assess all children equally. I dont think he was trying to be a controlling parent either I know Im not, even though people think I am becuase of my views on parenting, I think that he just wants the best education for his daughter and he wants her to want to learn.
So, if you are a "crazy" parent like me or you just want to learn a little bit more on the subject to make your own decisions, Bower has made another post which is more of a compilation of previous posts that delve more into the subject and reasoning behind Opting out of Grading. I highly recommend reading these to get a better idea but if you dont want to hunt through several posts here is my "short list" of his ideas:
- There is a big difference between learning something and then having a test and learning something because of a test which is what most students are doing these days with all the standardized tests they have to take. " There's a big difference between preparing kids for a life of tests and the tests of life. The former may have kids worried about failing their classes without realizing such a misguided distraction is a recipe for failing at life."
- A work or learning environment that is built on a foundation of smugness, fear and anger is destined for failure. And most of these emotions come from the student, teacher, and parent when it concerns grades.
- Grades are seen by students as a judgment or as Paul Dressel explains:
A mark or grade is an inadequate report of an inaccurate judgement by a biased and variable judge of the extent to which a student has attained an indefinite amount of material.
There are of course many more points he addresses but I think these three make it clear enough, IN MY OPINION, as to why opting out of grading can actually help promote learning instead of hinder it and reduce it to a number. We want our children to study for meaning and learn life lesson we dont want them going into school the day after a test which only one thing on their mind "did I pass the test!?!?"