An innovated education system has been always my matter of concern as I believe the current teaching system, including tests and grades, cannot help students to foster their potentials to serve the society as their best; but to categorize them in order to identify the most capable ones in specific tasks. The current education system, metaphorically, is like the old story of having rabbits, fishes and pigeons in the same school and ranking them in jumping, swimming and flying altogether. There is no need to teach rabbits the basics of jumping but how to jump better. They can try swimming but no need to get ranked upon their fun experience and for sure they need help for that.
Moreover, the competitive filtering system creates one-dimensional mindsets, for example, smart engineers whose world are just numbers, equations, and codes. Statistically, in a competitive environment, individuals get less time to explore and try other aspects of life like art for the engineering example. On the other hand, a grading system in which the variety of abilities, personality and background of students is not considered, cannot be a proper measure to quantify how much they have learned. The performance of individuals in responding questions is different apart from their knowledge or fluency in the topics. Thus, testing can be a tool to identify the stronger student conditionally, which adversely causes the students to label themselves under titles of good or bad. This grading system could be more advantageous in old school times when individuals had to seek the masters in each skill or science, learn their technics and find a job based on their new mastered skills. Maybe, the employers needed a scale to hire the best ones. With extended resumes and portfolios in our modern day, grades are not demonstrators of the capabilities of the people.
The goal of modern education is to help individuals to achieve their best in their own path, to help students to find the fittest role in which they can be creative while handling responsibilities in our complex society. However, ranking them based on the grades might make them disappointed in fostering their strongest side. In addition, as benefits of technology, students have access to a vast amount of documents to read and learn independently, the help of the instructor can be to optimize the learning during a specific period and this process can differ based on the effort of the student.
Finally, as the human generation is adapting promptly with technology, our educating system has to advance with the same pace as well.
February 12, 2019 @ 12:43 pm
I agree that our educational system needs to focus less on quantifying our progress and to start scaling to technology. I think being able to explore your potential is important. Sadly, allowing student to decide their path is something I don’t think will be allowed for today’s educational system.
I have a friend who pursued his passion of graphics design during middle and high school when the internet was just becoming a thing. This happened on his “off time” from school — but it would have been nice to allow him time during school to further focus on this passion. Maybe a middle ground can be done like how other countries approach education.
February 13, 2019 @ 9:13 pm
Thanks for your valuable comment. Some countries had some improvements on this which can be repeated by others. But some, like my home country’s education system, Iran, are just set to eliminate passion in students.
February 12, 2019 @ 3:31 pm
Thank you for your post. I agree with your idea that ranking grading system is not effective nor educational for both students who need help and who perform well. For students whose grade are not good, raking based on grades makes them disappointed and just give up. And for students who get higher grades, that system makes them stay in their comfort zone, being afraid of getting a failure and low grades. I remember the TED talks by Carol Dweck about a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. In her story, when she was in elementary school, her six grade teacher made students sit in a classroom in IQ order, which resulted in children with a fixed mindset. The ranking system not only is harmful to each students’ growth potential but also place them under severe competition with their friends and colleagues.
February 13, 2019 @ 9:16 pm
Exactly, the problem with grades and especially the IQ score is that disappoints the individuals under some criteria which is not necessarily true representative of potentials of them. Thank you for your comment.
February 12, 2019 @ 8:32 pm
Thank you fro your post, Setareh. I really liked your comparison of teaching in the university environment to evaluating different animals on the same abilities. I know we can’t change the university system overnight, but maybe we can change the way we as teachers evaluate in the classroom. Maybe posing questions that the students can answer in various ways based on their skill sets. Or giving students chances to improve upon their work, so if they don’t provide an answer that is thorough enough initially, they are given guidance on how to improve themselves.
February 13, 2019 @ 9:20 pm
Thanks, Connor. That is true that the change in the system is a long way but small steps taken by teachers as you explained by examples can be effective.
February 13, 2019 @ 4:35 pm
I do agree with your critique on the grade-based evaluation. I clearly remember how embarrassed I was when I got a moderately good, but not perfect, score when I was 8! And I clearly remember my mother asking “what was the best grade?” for every single test, to make a comparison and then an conclusion on my performance. Interestingly, these bad memories stick in our mind much longer than the good ones, and can discourage many children and adults to pursue their fields of interests.
February 13, 2019 @ 9:22 pm
Thank you Negin for your comment. Of course, the comparison and the expectation of being the best created mindless learning habit instead of experiencing the joy of learning.
February 13, 2019 @ 6:51 pm
I love your point on how the education system helps foster students on a particular path or role and how grading may affect these students trajectories. We discussed the idea of failure in class a while back where we talked about how failing in our current educational system is frowned upon. Students may have specific goals of becoming a specific type of professional in the real world one day, say, a doctor, but not be able to do so since they are scared of failure and in the end settle for something else.
February 13, 2019 @ 9:24 pm
Thank you Minh, I agree that this fear of failure as you described is one of the causes of mindless learning.
February 13, 2019 @ 7:08 pm
Hi Setareh, Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I totally agree with you. I like the example you used in the post, “having rabbits, fishes and pigeons in the same school”. Each and every student are different from each other so as the way they learn and their interests. So the education system should be flexible to “facilitate learning” for all the students not just a group of students.
February 13, 2019 @ 9:28 pm
Thank you Rathsara. I hope teachers could change their attitude toward students by not expecting the same result from all and considering their potentials; as the very first step in the improvement of the education system.
February 13, 2019 @ 8:01 pm
I really like your metaphor about rabbits, fish and pigeons. I think that sums it up beautifully. I also think you make some interesting points about working on your strongest subject. I might worry that if you become too diverse you might be a jack of trades but master of none.
February 13, 2019 @ 9:30 pm
Thank you for your great comment. That’s true that not being able to focus on one subject can make a master of none.