“Educators remind us that what counts in a classroom is not what the teacher teaches; it’s what the learner learns.” –Alfie Kohn
Grading is such an important part of our educational system. Yet, it can be a source of stress. It’s hard to encourage life-long learning if learning is associated with emotional disturbance.
There is a concept called “ pedagogies of compliance”. Tim Walker describes this well. He also interviewed a teacher who stated that traditional grading practices are “…generally counterintuitive to what and how we want students to learn and achieve”. (Source)
Yet, sometimes we must give grades. One of the questions presented during my master’s program was how would I evaluate a student’s gardening project.
My response was that I couldn’t imagine the need to assess a student on gardening, composting, or waste sorting because that seems to take away from the fun of it. However, if I had to I would make the rubric as flexible as possible.
Based on a scale from 1-10 with one being that the student did not accomplish the goal, and 10 being that the student accomplished the goal with excellence – I would evaluate the following:
- The student explained the project clearly either via writing or a presentation
- The project was realistic based on the environment and the resources available
- The student completed the project
But realistically, I would never use a rubric for a project like this because one can use their eyes to see if the student was able to complete the task, and one can use their ears to hear what the student says they learned from it.
With that in mind, I can have goals for what I want my students to learn, but what they actually learn from completing the task is not up to me to decide. One student could learn that they want to be more independent and learn how to grow their own food, whereas another student could learn about plants that are beneficial to the local environment. Another student could learn about soil types. All of these are valid and beneficial.
According to Adriana Striefer, grades “adversely impact students’ mental health, decrease their enjoyment of school and of learning, foster competition among students and adversarial interactions between students and instructors, reduce students’ interest in and attention to written feedback, and encourage students to avoid challenging tasks” (Source).
Promoting life-long learning requires students to be able to learn freely and with enjoyment. In my opinion, giving feedback is often more appropriate than using a graded rubric.
The intent of this newsletter is to increase awareness of available educational options in order to encourage environments where students can align to their true gifts and talents.
When people are aligned to their true nature and in touch with their loving hearts, they are able to co-create a harmonious world.
Remember to love yourself and to always follow your inner guidance. Therefore, take what resonates and discard the rest.
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