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Growth and School

Updated on March 29, 2022 at the 19th hour
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DISCLAIMER: Expressed views on this blog are my own.

I think it was in high school that a Math Teacher had our class write reflections on our learning experience and it's something that's stuck to me these days. I mean I kept an electronic journal before that time so I had some experience with reflecting on a day and trying to stay on path to a goal. These days, I'll schedule one day to write into my, currently private, application reflection for that period of time based on whatever notes in that app (I got some ideas on how to improve that ability).

That brings me to the topic of Growth and School or Ungrading.

This article describes the experience of a college professor deciding to forgo grades until the last minute in an English class. At the end of the class, you'll submit a portfolio of your written work. This work should have been revised and show the result of your work from the past few months to which the professor will grade you on. I like the idea.

The rationale for ungrading is reasonable. What grades are you getting when you get out of school? Grading is arbitrary and archaic and can cause people to become less motivated. Students should have their own motivation for improvement rather than some arbitrary people making up the grading rules. Grade averages are mathematically unsound when students are practically going to fail at the beginning and eventually get better over time. Some people are primed to succeed at the class already. Makes sense to me to wait until everyone has shown improved work in order to give a grade. In the end, who grades people based on what they did in 6th grade anyway? Is your job going deep into your elementary school grades to figure out if your work is good? Think about it.

It's all about growth. Instead of being told you suck at the beginning of the course, you are told you can improve your writing here, here and here. You do something and are given feedback on how to better develop your skill. You can discuss with your teacher or classmates on what you did and how you could do better, so you are given the opportunity to collaborate. There should be some point in the class where you get the hang of it (calibrate) and catch your own mistakes. Growth is the single more important thing in life.

Now, one could say it is limited in application, but not so fast with the pessimism. No one has to specifically go all in on ungrading. Mathematically, Ungrading is a weighted grade average with 0.00 given to all submitted work and 1.00 given to the last grade given. That means many teachers who already use weighted grade averages can incorporate some of the ideas into their classes. Depending on your class, you could given less weight to the beginning of the class and more weight to work further in the class.

Anyways, it's interesting. I ain't a teacher or student in the school system, so it doesn't matter to me now. It would have been nice to have feedback without the grade.

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