This week I read the article, 9 Elephants in the (Class)Room That Should “Unsettle” Us by Will Richardson. They are some of the major issues that can be seen in classrooms that should be taken care of, but may take a while for it to happen. Especially if they are not being spoken about as issues. I will be looking at the following points as some of the most important ones that need addressed.
First point he makes that I find important is, “We know that most of our students will forget most of the content that they “learn” in school.” A lot of learning students do in schools today they are expected to learn in a short amount of time, and then regurgitate it onto a test to “prove” their knowledge of a subject. Once this test is done the students no longer need that information therefore, they forget it. Unless it is of interest to the student they have no use of it.
Another thing that is important to look at here is that the classes deemed most important for teachers to teach are the subjects that only work for a limited amount of jobs, and interests for students. I know that I do better, and remember more when I feel as though I have a stake in my learning. If it benefits me and my future it is worth my time. All of the math and science classes beyond the basics were pointless. Many kids look at it this way as well.
The next point of his I want to look at is, ” We know that grades, not learning, are the outcomes that students and parents are most interested in.” We are all so conditioned in schools that grades are the equivalent of your worth. If you get A’s and B’s you are obviously smart, and worth something. The students who get C’s, D’s, and F’s shouldn’t bother to strive for anything. At least that was my view going through school. For me a “C” was the equivalent to an “F”. It wasn’t good enough. Whenever I saw that “C” meant average I knew I had to be above average. Average was a failure in any subject.
In my class we are on contract grading, and it is such a help. Not having to worry about how many points are going into each post I write. I get to do my work, and decide for myself what grade I am striving for. The base grade if you do everything exactly as it is asked is a “B”. A’s are reserved for those who continually go above, and beyond. This is fair to me. I shouldn’t get the same grade as someone who is doing more than I am.
This semester I was really bad in my other class about putting my learning above my grade. I slowly stopped doing certain assignments simply because I could sacrifice the points, and still do okay. This really was me stealing learning opportunities from myself. It shouldn’t be about the grade or the points. It should be more about what I am able to take from the class. Actual learning is so much more important than looking like you are learning. This is true for everyone. Don’t steal opportunities from yourselves like I did. Make learning more than the grades.
Make the elephant go away.