A Note on Grades
It is worthwhile for us to undertake a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the grading system, its underlying purpose and intent, its effects on the classroom, particularly on the professor-student and student-student relationships. Despite having tried hard I have not been able to make peace with the growing awareness that grades are now at the center of the classroom and have taken it hostage, along with us, our interaction and relationships. Candid conversation about grades and their impact upon what goes on in the class (and inside the classroom) I deem part of our class, curriculum and education.
Grades being grades and unavoidable – at least for now – here’s how I am oriented in determining them. There are two aspects that remain critical in pursuit of knowledge (or for that matter any other initiative of serious investment). That pursuit demands a) “Dedication” expressed through the quality of the time, effort and energy we extend to it; and b) “Mastery” (or Excellence) in what we have tried to dedicate ourselves to. In other words, Dedication is the pathway, Mastery or Excellence in the subject, the goal. In my experience, dedication does not ‘insure’ or ‘guarantee’ mastery, Though dedication is much appreciated, it’s the scales of mastery (or excellence) that provide grade-assessment.
[NOTE: Someone does need to grade the grading system. I give it a straight ‘F’.]
Again, though my views on grading do not map onto this blog entry “Why I Don’t Grade”, I do think that reading and thinking about the issues it raises can help us re-imagine, re-think, re-configure and hopefully re-turn to more humane ways and expressions of how we are and what we do in classes and in classrooms.
[NOTE: This source was helpfully shared by my colleague Prof. Scott Denham during our Humanities program last year.]