Learning about grading from the Baljeatles

The BEST part of my day, y’all, starts at about 4:30 every day.  That’s when my daughter and I cuddle up on the couch with a cold glass of apple juice and our iPad to watch a quick show together.  It’s really the only time that she and I have alone with one another — and I love it.

Recently, we’ve gotten hooked on the madcap adventures of Phineas and Ferb.  Not only do I love the complete spirit of adventure and experimentation that defines the boys, I love the great music tracks that fill each episode.

Yesterday, I stumbled on this bit starring Baljeet, a brilliant-yet-painfully-high-strung kid who can’t ever seem to relax — especially when it comes to making good grades in school:

(see lyrics here)

What’s completely crazy is that I’ve probably taught about a million Baljeet’s in my day — kids who weren’t interested in any experience that wasn’t graded.  And that’s frightening because when grades become more important than learning, kids suffer.

Not only do the Baljeets in our classrooms carry around the stress that comes with constantly trying to make the next Honor Roll, they fail to develop the kind of natural inquisitiveness that leads to intellectual persistence.

Worse yet, when right-wing #edpolicy wonks push for crappy practices that reward and punish schools with letter grades, TEACHERS give up on natural curiosity, too.

Who has time for impossible-to-measure traits like curiosity when your school is about to be publicly shamed because your kids can’t regurgitate the right facts on the right state-mandated exams?

When are we going to cultivate a culture of wonder in our schools?

When will we create learning spaces where asking — and then being able to answer — questions of deep personal interest is valued and respected AT LEAST as much as making As?

And when are we going to FINALLY realize that blunt grading practices — for students, teachers AND schools — do little to encourage the kinds of innovative thinking that we all KNOW defines the most successful members of any knowledge-driven workforce?

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Related Radical Reads:

@shareski’s Right: My Students CAN Assess Themselves

A Student’s Take on Self Assessment

Reminder: Mastery and Performance are NOT the Same Thing

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