This talk by Will Richardson at TEDX West Vancouver rings true. The way kids learn on their own is much different than the way they learn in school – and they are more engaged by it.
Schools must change.
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!
Letter grades, and their value in learning, are being brought into question with increasing frequency. You may recall that I am not a supporter of letter grades in our schools. They are subjective and relatively meaningless. And, worse, they take the focus away from LEARNING and put it on COMPARING. Jordan Tinney, Superintendent/CEO of the largest school district in BC, has written a piece about letter grades – what do letter grades have to do with performance? He asks where, in the real world, are we ever evaluated with a percent and a letter grade. It’s worth a read!
Kids need to dream big dreams in order to grow and learn. “A” just doesn’t seem quite big enough to me. What does “A” really mean? I think it means you remembered a lot. I don’t think it necessarily means you grew and learned.
Research into “growth mindset” can help us understand some ways we can raise kids to be hardy, resilient, and persistent. It’s good for human brains!