Re: grades

Dave Lewis (dkl@IWAYNET.NET)
Fri, 23 Aug 1996 00:15:56 -0400

> I think liking is an important point which gets us back to the
>sentiment behind the "real" assignments discussion. The best classes I
>have ever taugh have been the ones in which both students and I were
>interested in what was being said and written. I looked forward to
>seeing what my students would have to say. They were animated in class
>and engaged in their writing. In such an environment, students and teachers
>can sense the enthusiasm and draw upon it to sustain the class.
> No matter how a given class is taught, if this kind of energy can
>be generated and sustained, while addressing course or departmental
>requirements, then productive work is being done. What is real about a
>class like this are the questions being asked, the interest invested, and
>the learning that is going on.
> Liking is at the center.

Amen -- liking is at the center. However, it is possible that some classes
are structured with so many 'requirements' (like number of pages, number of
revisions, specific style of argument, etc) that it becomes much more
difficult to either find a likable subject or to sustain it. The
'requirements' would most commonly arise from some perceived need to
'grade' the students' work. If the student was allowed to write about
something authentic and engaging to her, constrained only by her efforts
and the efforts of her colleague/teacher to help her improve writing to her
goals -- she would learn, not merely earn a grade.

Ah, Utopia. I've been there, but it isn't easy to get to and I haven't been
back for eight years or so.


Grades are blunt instruments used to pummel minds into submission.
--Eric Crump