Hide my grade, so I can get my A!

I am very passionate about this week’s topics. To me, while grades play an important role in the education system, their role can also be misinterpreted to generate negative outcomes from the educational system. Grades have always been a good part of my education, and I have always link my progress of a class to the grades I make. Sometimes people complain that grades are not a reflection about how much you know or understand the class material, or how much you have studied int he process.

To me, grades play an important role in assessing how much material that your instructor wants you to, are you able to retrieve in a specific manner. i think grades, in general, are a good self indicator of your knowledge or an assessment of where do you need to work more. Getting a B in a test, to me, indicates that there is some material that I have not learn it yet, or that I need to revise it again. To me, this is a self-reflection process; which means that you can reflect and learn from a grade to improve in your next challenges. I think that grades help one-self to address issues for improvement.

On the other hand, grades have taken a different role, and they have become the way to evaluate and compare the final knowledge/outcome of an individual in comparison to the rest of the classmates. Nowadays we have distributions about how many A’s or B’s should a class have. It may seem that grades have taken over the overall education assessment.

Grades should play as an external motivator agent for the individual to self-assessment rather than for group placing. There is a case in Quito, where in 2000, an elementary school tried and experimented a new methodology where motivation came from the thrill of playing and not so much for the grades of tests. This was an experimental school where kids learned about math by playing to go grocery shopping, or learned language and grammar by writing letters to Santa, or play that their job is to respond to petitions, etc. This was a successful experiment, and the school became famous for it pedagogical methods. Perhaps it was too futuristic because no other schools adopted such methodology, but that school was recognized for its positive approaches to student learning.

Similarly in the real life work. There is the case of the Chilean State Bank that replaced the Human-resources department for a Happiness department. The goal was to reduce the turnover they were facing due to stress and other negative effects typical of banking jobs. More info here (oops, ti is in Spanish): https://massnegocios.com/rodrigo-rojas-foncillas-gerente-de-felicidad-bancoestado-microempresas-s-a-chile/. The results were splendid! The new purpose was to understand people and support them as part of a family, and not to treat them as workers who must finish specific tasks in a certain time.

Perhaps it is time to rethink grades from rewards that “narrow our view and let us focus to achieve it quicker; into creative, conceptual kind of concept.

Everybody has to take the same exam

Ellen Langer article about Mindful Learning points out three important myths; that although seem very obvious about the truth, it got to my attention how current experiences show me that our reality still has not defy those myths. I am going to share a personal experience that relates to the first myth.

The first myth reads “The basics should be learned so well that they become second nature”.  When you reflect on this, this seems very obvious. I tried to learn english using various approaches, and I was left with having to do a study abroad year in a small college in PA so learning english became a survival skill.  One of my closest friends, join me along he learning experiencing, however, he did not need to go the whole path as Idid, because somehow he caught english language a lot faster than me. But he time I went to study abroad, his english was as good–or bad–as when I came back from 13 months studying in PA. I feel that I at least put as much effort as he did, I certainly Aced all my grammar quiz and grammatical examinations, while my friend did not. What happened?  One way is that each of us have different needs, skills, and weaknesses; and learning occur within that context, which is personal.

The previous example shows me that the myth should be so obvious and not necessary to be explained or shared with other educators. However, we still find students learning basic procedures without understanding why or how they work. We find educators using the same tight structured pedagogy approaches to teach to such a diverse group of learners, as any students group is. The following picture does not need words to be explained.

I think, as Sir Ken Robinson pointed out, education should have common goals, but the paths to them are infinite, and all of they work as long as they aim for the mind of the learner to flourish.

Using technology for better education, or for a more unjust world?

I am afraid of the new development of teaching.  As the video Digital Media- New Learners of the 21st Century suggest, by 2020 people who do not know how to use media will be consider as illiterate. They show 5 stories in which they successfully use digital devices and technology gadgets to engage students into learning. Students understand the reasons for learning the lessons provided. A hands on, short-term applicable lesson.

Image result for gaming in classroom

I am going a little bit off from the main subject, because this readings got me thinking about how the development of technology, if not correctly applied in the classroom, are contributing to a less just world. I think this fact should be highlighted in the teaching designs because we should teach, and learn, that technology is a language that about half of the population do not even have access; and it is our duty, to develop and use these technology to facilitate access for it.

Image result for tablet as a cutting board

It is unstoppable the use of new technologies or games.  I taught using some truss-Bridges games, and they worked very well. they provide a more realistic understanding of the behavior of trusses once loaded and in use. I tried a little experiment, and I asked a lot of my uncles and similar aged people to try it. It surprising to see that for them, people who use their phone regularly and somehow hace some education, these games were not very intuitive to be played (as opposed to the students in my classroom).  If this happens with well-educated adults, we can imagine how the impacts scales when it comes to the more vulnerables of our societies.