Just now, my daughter found out her cousin of the same age, is in all likelihood, going to get a 4.0. She asked, “What’s a 4.0?” It will be difficult to explain my elation to most people around here, because in my “neck of the woods” here, things like that are so important.
I am an Alfie Kohn fan, and Alfie Kohn does really great job explaining why grades are bad. I will sum it up and then give you a link somthat you may read his awesome and very true essay.
Why grades and grading, in school, are a bad idea:
-Society cares about them, gives importance to them, and does not ignore them. (Ignoring and not valuing them would help a ton).
-Grades can cause suicidal thoughts, whether they are good ones or bad ones. Kids with good ones feel very much pressure to keep getting good ones, because others value grades so much.
-Kids do not see their value the way God does when they see their worth through their grades. They feel like the love they receive is received by merit.
-They do not feel unconditional love when their parents or teachers are “proud of them” for their grades. They feel love dependent upon the achievement of good grades.
-Grades do things to teachers. They make teachers say things like, “If you do not, you will have a lower grade.” The grades make the teachers forget the real reason why the child should do as they ask, which should be, to learn. I would prefer no grades so that thr teacher could say, “If you read this book, you will become more wise, and wisdom is a great treasure!”
-Kids feel like as long as they have perfect grades, they are done with the learning in that area. If they have a perfect score, they figure they are perfect at it and cannot go higher. Grades give the sky, a limit.
-In Alfie Kohn’s book, he talks about a study that shows that kids who get a 3.99 feel a lot worse about themselves than kids who get really low grades, because they were close to perfect but did not make it to perfect. These kids are so dramatic that they feel like their lives have been destroyed, if they get a 3.99
-See with the other perspective for a second, which is my perspective. If there is no “A” or “C” or 4.0 or 2.0, the child can focus instead on learning and learning and learning some more. There is not the pressure to achieve. Whatever is learned just makes the child want to learn more.
-My daughter’s reasons for writing a story now are, “because the article made me want to.” Desire fuels learning. She just read an article in the paper about the McKenzie Wagner’s “Benotropia,” which my daughter bought just because she wanted to read a book, because reading is her hobby. She used to be in public school. In public school, she says, she hated reading. She doesn’t know why she didn’t lie it then. She just didn’t.
-My son loves to learn science because it is awesome. He loves learning about animals, especially. He loves learning history because you can learn about the past because it might happen again. He loves learning about other cultures because when you learn about what they do, you may want to do it, too. My son likes learning math because it will help him with science.
I know to most people around here, my family is very strange and these ideas are so foreign that I belong in a museum of the weirdest things on earth. Only experiencing it would allow you to see how great learning for the right reasons, really is!
I promised an Alfie Kohn link, but I have found a few really good ones, so I will post all of them.
No Grades + No Homework = Better Learning
The Case Against Grades
From Grading to De-Grading
Grading: The Issue is Not Why, But How
The Dangerous Myth of Grade Inflation
It’s Bad News If Students Are Motivated to Get A’s” (Youtube video of lecture)
Achievement vs. Learning (youtube video of lecture)