I have to admit that before reading the article “The Case Against Grades” I was extremely biased. As soon as I read the title, I directly knew what to do next:
read the article, bash the article every chance i get, criticize the article in my blog. However, i quickly realized that the author Alfie Kohn is making very good points, and looking back on my own education, i have been the victim of many downsides of grading which include:
>Diminishing students’ interest in whatever they’re learning.
>Creating a preference for the easiest possible task
>Reducing the quality of students’ thinking
>Increasing the levels of cheating
However, as much as i do agree with these points, I still think grading is necessary, at least in advanced levels of education. I definitely see how letting go of grades for children can enhance the learning experience, i mean giving a 7 year old an F isn’t really helping anyone. However, i would definitely feel more comfortable knowing that my surgeon can identify every single organ in my body, or that the pilot knows what the big red button does. Don’t take the previous examples too literally, but try to see the underlying point. If no grading exists how can we differentiate between people who are qualified and people who are not. The article suggest personalized feedback, or meaningful assessment, but once other people have access to these assessment this becomes another way of grading, basically all we end up doing is manipulating semantics. If i know that a professor is going to be writing my recommendation letter, i will naturally tend to put much more effort toward his work, and less towards other’s work. If this sounds familiar, well its similar to what grading does to people.
At the end of the day i don’t think we are stuck with only one of two options: keep grading as is or completely get rid of it. We should focus on reducing the harm caused by grading, but at the same time acknowledge that grading does still have the benefit of at least giving a perspective of a person’s qualifications ( again i agree that qualifications are not entirely based on grades). I will end by saying that a person can be passionate about a career, but passion does not translate into competence.