I’ve heard a couple interesting comments this week at school and they have me thinking. The first one was I heard a student in my 3UU class say that I “don’t mark I give feedback.” This is fascinating to me and I really stopped me in my tracks because she’s right. I don’t mark in the traditional sense.

I spend most of my class time observing, encouraging, reading, and giving students strategies of how to improve. I don’t have percentages in my book. Nor is any one task out of a certain amount. I do give levels but that’s only on summative work and to be honest I really don’t even like doing that. I’m so concerned that what we’re doing is we’re devaluing learning when we assign numbers or grades to a specific task. I want students to be curious and I want them to be skeptical and I want them to be critical thinkers but how can I do that when all they’re worried about is what number I’m going to place on their thinking? It just doesn’t compute to me.

The second comment I heard yesterday was ” I’m so scared for the test next period.” It doesn’t seem like an out of the ordinary comment at a school, but what struck me was that I just come from talking with my five-year-old about kindergarten and how much she loves it. I had also had a similar experience with my two-year-old yesterday morning. She just learned how to put her clothes on by herself and her new skills are exciting. When students come to school, however, it seems that the focus is on memorize the content, regurgitate it, and that’s how we demonstrate learning.  It seems like the curiosity and excitement is gone. And unfortunately, in many cases, it’s replaced with fear. I’m worried that we’re going to have future with people who are afraid to make mistakes and who don’t think outside the box. I worry about the detriment on our society because we need those people who challenge. We need those people who know that making mistake is one of the best ways to learn and we need those people who are willing to take a risk. I’m concerned that here at school we are equating learning with fear. How can we have an innovative and creative next generation of thinkers when they’re afraid?

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One thought on “Overheard at School

  1. I am also an Ontario teacher who gives feedback. At first the students were resistant, but then I noticed that it really took the pressure off to “perform”. Students began to get excited about what they could do, rather than what mark they got. Thanks for this blog post – I don’t feel so alone now 🙂

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