When your a kid, your parents tell you that if you want to be successful then you need to go to school and get “good grades”. The interesting thing is that, by simply “getting good grades”, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are actually learning and retaining anything. All you’re doing is showing on paper that you can read over some index cards a few hundred times to memorize the answers to a test, take the test and potentially get a passing grade to take back to mom and dad. Mom and dad then take that passing grade and put it up on the fridge and tell their child, that they’re going to be succesful if they keep that up.
While that may very well be true, the child most likely will forget what they’ve memorized from that index card in about a week because then the class will be onto another topic that will require them to probably do the same thing with another set of index cards. The cycle keeps repeating itself in a never-ending process.
Kohn’s reading was intersting as it highlighted the effects of grading, that it diminishes students’ interests in whatever they’re learning, create’s a preference for the easiest possible task and reduces the quality of student’s thinking. I would agree with these points, because as I reflect on my educational experiences, I absolutely looked for the shortest readings, and studied only the information that I knew for sure was going to be on the test.
The issue with this, is that I limited myself to only the information that I needed at the moment verses not taking the time to really understand the concepts fully. As I have gotten older and have started to understand this idea a little better, I do believe that professors should find creative ways to encourage their students to not soley focus on the grades they might or might not get and focus on really understanding what they’re in class learning.
What has been really encouraging for me is taking a class this semester focused on the issues of college pedagogy where we have talked about this very issue. We are talking about the issue of grading and the types of effects that it has on students. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a fully thought out way to combat this issue, however I think by continuing these conversations, we should be able to get there eventually.