Educon, for me, has always been such a hotbed of fresh ideas.
This year, the theme of Educon 2.8 is EMPOWERMENT.
Here is part of the Friday night panel conversation that seriously resonated with me. I didn’t ask the question, but I am thankful to the person who did.
How do we transform students from learning for their grades to learning for knowledge?
College in some ways hinders that opportunity for growth when it comes to ideas. I have said to my sister, “Don’t go to college. I will help you create an idea instead”.
Will your fails from your ideas be bigger than the debt from going to college? When you go to college you come out with big debt and then you have to work for someone else to pay it off.
“It isn’t that important to have good grades. The work ethic involved in getting those good grades, though, will help with building your own company.”
Jeff Boodie @jboodie @jobsnap
I definitely think that children love to learn, they love knowledge, but I think students have become a victim, a monster of sorts, that we create, and they are the ones…
the culture we create, creates the kind of student that only understands learning in terms of grades, and so it’s not that young people have to fix that, it’s that we as educators and school administrators and as a culture have to figure out…
which is what Jeff was exactly alluding to…
which that we have gotten to such a narrow path of understanding.
I would really think that it is our ultimate challenge as the educators of children and leaders of learning to understand that we are we on a very, very narrow path of knowledge, and defining it, and reducing it, and measuring it, and KILLING it, ultimately.
And so that is the thing that has to change on OUR end before we can expect our kids to do it.”
Helen Gym @HelenGym2015
(Shouldn’t this be a priority in our teacher education programs?)
How do we transform students from learning for their grades to learning for knowledge? What do you think?
Last week, Jan Wong, currently an Assistant Professor of Journalism and Communications at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick, wrote an article for the Chronicle Herald outlining her concern about her Journalism students cheating on quizzes.
The sentences from her post that most resonated with me are below.
It should be no surprise at all that some students at a university are “conditioned to work for marks and only marks”.
The only criterion for acceptance to the university is “high marks”.
When universities filter applicants based on marks, so that only students with really great marks can enter the institution, the students who arrive and attend class there will include those who have learned to play a game very well, and who will continue to play that game when they arrive.
Any senior high school teacher can attest to the fact that learning is not the priority for many grade 11 and 12 students. The priority is getting the highest two-digit number possible through whatever means are necessary so that he/she can get access to a university program.
The ramifications of this selection process are numerous, and often do not relate to learning at all. Some are, in fact, very negative.
Parents may bully the teachers who don’t give the needed or expected grades.
Students may select courses based on who they know will give them the marks they want.
Parents will track down a Principal in the summer and demand that their child’s marks be changed.
Students tell teachers that the mark they have received for their assignment is “unacceptable” and that they will need something higher.
“Cheating” is rampant on tests, exams and assignments.
Students learn to seek out exams from previous years, tests and student notes from previous years.
They learn how best to get as many marks as possible on every test and exam.
They will do almost anything for “bonus marks”, and they learn to manipulate a teacher to offer those “bonus marks”.
Students and parents figure out how to play the game.
Alfie Kohn has been writing about the problem with grades for many years. One of his best articles is “From Degrading to De-Grading” (http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/fdtd-g.htm), where he explores, among other things, the observations that grades reduce a student’s preference for challenging tasks, the quality of their thinking, and their interest in learning.
The lack of interest in learning by students who have been told that marks are what matters is well-documented, as in the observation below from Janice Fiamengo:
Those who do well are called “good students”. Some schools give out awards to students with the highest marks, encouraging competition instead of collaborative learning, and reinforcing that marks are what is really important at that school.
While there is a large and growing movement to put learning at the centre of the what school is about, as long as that final mark is the only requirement for university entrance, marks will remain the focus.
And universities will get what they have selected for. When students don’t get the marks they want at university, they will react exactly as they have learned to react.