And yet, I am very saddened to say that these same teachers share with me that they feel like they have to grade. Typically, they point to their administrators, or school district, or government as the external force that is placing pressure on them to grade.
Seth Godin speaks quite strongly about this kind of situation in his book Linchpin:
If your agenda is set by someone else and it doesn't lead you where you want to go, why is it your agenda?I am disheartened by the idea that the teaching profession feels like we must accept this necessary evil. There is something very immoral and unethical about believing any evil to be necessary.
If grading is not your agenda, and you feel like it is not leading you where you or your students want to go, why are you doing it?
The obvious answer is that teachers want to remain employed.
I agree that you can make more of a difference by remaining inside the system, rather than from the outside looking in; however, what are you doing to make a difference? What are you doing to be subversive towards grading?
Are you sure you need to grade as much as you do? Even if you have to give a grade on a report card, where does it say you have to have a collection of grades to come up with a grade? And if it does say this some where, are you grading as little as necessary?
Do you have to give a final exam? Where does it say you have to count it on the report card? If it's a provincial or state-wide standardized test, where does it say you have to count it on the report card, or that you have to grade it at all?
Do you have to average averages to come up with an average?
How often do you talk about grades? Is it only on report card day? Why is it more than that?
If no one is saying you have to do these things you feel uncomfortable doing, then why are you doing them?
And if someone is saying you have to do these things, then what are you doing to make change? Before you answer, ask yourself two things - if not you, then who? and if not now, then when?