Thursday, March 11, 2010

End grading's reign of extrinsic terror

There is NO subsitute for an authentic, intrinsic interest in learning for its own sake. John Dewey penciled his thoughts on this topic in 1915:

If there is not an inherent attracting power in the material, then... the teacher will either attempt to surround the material with foreign attractiveness, making a bid or offering a bribe for attention by "making the lesson interesting"; or else will resort to ... low marks, threats of non-promotion, staying after school... But the attention thus gained... always remains dependent upon something external... True, reflective attention, on the other hand, always involves judging, reasoning, deliberation; it means that the child has a question of his own and is actively engaged in seeking and selecting relevant material with which to answer it.

If we are serious about life-long learning, then we have no choice on the matter. We have got to abolish grades so that we can cease with the artificial carrots and sticks that simply work to distract everyone from real learning.

I abolished grades 5 years ago, and it has liberated both my students and I from the reign of extrinsic terror that accompany the use of grades.

For more on abolishing grades, check out this page.

1 comment:

  1. You know, I have never put a grade of anything my students have ever done? Teachers told me, they wouldn't work hard, wouldn't do anything, would begin asking for their grades to see how they were doing against their peers.

    It has never happened. Not a single time.

    And what is most interesting is that none of them even notice that I don't grade them. I have brought it up from time to time...and they all get this look on their faces, like, "Huh? oh yeah right, you never grade us..." And then I ask them why they even do anything then...

    Even they are stunned for a moment or two, but then they get back to whatever it is they are invested in.

    No one believes this. And I do it over and over again in the most progressive as well as most traditional schools. Results are the same.

    My email is


Follow by Email