Living and Learning with Risk: Against Rubrics and Grades. How "Ungrading" Allowed My Students to Try Some New Things
I gave my students freedom to write (present) what they learned however they wanted. They were terrified; how could they get an A without a rubric??--and then they reveled in it. We took risks together, and learned together.
Professor Marjorie Faulstich Orellana of UCLA suggested that there is a “‘Love’ Revolution” underway in education as reaction against the punitive and judgment-drenched testing, measuring, accountability tide. One of the mysterious, frustrating things about teaching in college is that we rarely admit that we do it out of love.
Strategies are the main learning outcome of all those years of school. Anyone who flunks strategy basically flunks school.
With Netta Avineri and Eric J. Johnson, I've addressed a report in the Washington Post on the many contextual factors affecting children in poverty. The well-intentioned plans to teach poor families of color “better” or “the right” ways to be parents ignores recent work that now points to a culturally sustaining education that builds on the knowledge of students of color rather than erasing it.
Why are people poor? Why do children of the poor not thrive?
The latest explanation for why children coming from disadvantaged households do not rise in this land of equal opportunity, why they do not do well in school, is that they are exposed to “thirty million fewer words” by the time they enter school.
If only it were so simple.
Read it on Huffington Post, or click "Read More"
The Proceedings of a conference, Learning In and Out of School: Education Across the Globe, held at the University of Notre Dame's Kellogg Institute for International Studies on May 22-23, 2012, are now available!
This is envisioned as a contribution to broadening the scholarly but also the public conversation about the nature of learning and its relationship to the formal institutions we know as schools. In that sense, posting proceedings is a necessary offering.
We—anthropologists, psychologists, human development and education scholars from as far as Korea and Alaska—met for two full days during a gorgeous spring week just following graduation, with flowers and warmth and the peace of an academic year just completed. We ate wonderful food throughout the day and night, and had many informal conversations along with the formal proceedings. As convener, I aimed to implement my best understanding of how people learn and how they interact by structuring the conference with no papers delivered. This is somewhat like “flipping the classroom”: the independent preliminary work that could be done in advance was done in advance—writing and reading papers and preparing comments on others’ work—and the precious face-to-face time was used for what could only be done that way: discussing, asking, brainstorming, and laughing together.
[Originally published in China Daily, November 9, 2012]
If the goal of scholarship is to get published, rather than to contribute in a meaningful and substantial way to the growth of knowledge, then any method is acceptable. Academic life is not usually so lucrative that people enter it to get wealthy. Usually people have some drive to know and learn.
Until this has been accomplished in China through a combination of structural and cultural changes, the fight against misconduct and corruption will remain with us.
Over Thanksgiving weekend, my college-student daughter started singing. She knew, and claimed that her friends knew, hundreds of songs. My father, a pediatrician, asked what he thought was a rhetorical question, “Why do kids know the words to every song but they can’t memorize something for a test that will get them a higher grade?”
This is, actually, a real question.
Also on Huffington Post
President Barack Hussein Obama was re-elected in a landslide.
We progressives who donated time and money to ensure that this happened have a right to be pleased.
But now it is time for loyal critics to speak up. And one area that must be attended to is education—at all levels. That unmentionable education radical Bill Ayers—someone Obama once knew but had to repudiate—wrote a letter to Arne Duncan explaining clearly what is wrong with the current system, but it does not quite go far enough.
Our world is built largely on consistent "conceptual metaphors" that order our way of thinking. If education is war survival by any means necessary makes perfect sense. Anyone with the money to purchase a paper would do so.
Susan D. Blum
Who doesn't think there is something wrong with education? Anthropology has a lot to offer when we think about how to raise up our young--in often unexpected ways! Join me as my thinking about higher education unfolds.
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