I recently had a graduating student confide in me that he only had one regret about his education so far. He wished he had focussed less on marks and more on learning. I was sad for him for realizing he’d missed the boat, and also astonished that he realized his straight A report card wasn’t really worth the time he’d spent earning it. Schools aren’t set up for students to take the kind of risk it takes to focus on learning. The almighty letter grade can mean getting in to your university of choice – or not.
Deep learning is messy and wrought with failures and setbacks. High marks don’t always take students on that kind of a journey. In general, if you do the work with mostly the “right” answers and participate well in class, a good mark is coming your way. Just follow the dotted line and you’re golden.
I just can’t like that.
This article from the Globe and Mail, by Elyse Watkins, is interesting and more evidence that we need to change the focus back to learning and away from letter grades. She argues that “we need to prevent this “currency” from being misused as the only worth of a student’s learning”. I couldn’t agree more!