Nicholas J has a great post up asking, do grades hinder learning? We’re in agreement on this one that the answer is probably yes.
Poor or mediocre grades can convince us that we just aren’t good at math or writing or foreign languages or just not cut out for school. High grades might make us risk averse; the upside of trying to think outside the box for a paper or project or taking on a challenging course might not be worth the risk of permanent damage to our GPAs.
Ultimately grades are an external motivator that make school work more about pleasing the teacher than about learning for its own sake.
Schools can operate without grades, of course, though they don’t often choose to do so. Montessori schools, for example, eschew them.
Some readers may know that I am a proponent of public Montessori programs. One of the wonderful things about Montessori is that it is an invitation to the children to learn, not a mandate. Children are capable of amazing work when we get this invitation right, although getting the invitation right can be a tricky business.
I accepted the Blogathon Challenge on a whim on January 1st. While not a classic blunder on the scale of going against a Sicilian with death on the line, I have concluded that I need a plan to get through at least the next few weeks of the Challenge. So I’m planning a series of shorter posts about various features of the Montessori method that make it possible for Montessori schools to issue invitations to the children to learn rather than mandates.