Last week we briefly discussed in class grading systems and how different educators treat grading. I got on my soap box for a moment and began to express my point, but because of how strongly I feel on the subject I didn’t get a chance to fully express it (so I will do that now). I will make one point in this blog and two more in the next two.
My first point is that the focus on grading itself (at least at the high school level) is applied completely backwards. The emphasis of teachers, parents, and the culture in general is on getting good grades, not education itself. Students are very aware of this and of course respond accordingly. From the moment we begin to grade students on their performance, they are mentally trained to care only for the grade and not the education that is supposed to go along with it. By praising the grades students receive, as in “great job Jonny, you got an A on your test!”, instead of praising the knowledge the acquired, regardless of the grade associated with it, we have created a generation of “short cutters”. People who will take the easy way out, cheat if they can, and are not the least bit creative or inventive. People often seem baffled why a student would rather copy answers from another student than take the time to do the work themselves and actually learn the material. The answer to this is really quite simple, its because subconsciously they know that they will get the exact same praise either way, it has nothing to do with learning. We have sucked the fun of learning out of our education system, now all thats left is good or bad grades.