People kept asking me what I would do to improve things. And I said that if I could make one change, I would get rid of grades.
Jacques Dubochet won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry this week. He is apparently a charming, amusing man, and I'm sure he's quite good at Chemistry.
But one thing caught my eye:
On his CV, which is featured on Quartz, he gives an entry for his conception by his "optimistic parents."
And he also writes:
First official dyslexic in the canton of Vaud – this permitted being bad at everything … and to understand those with difficulties.
So. He was "bad at everything."
Somehow in his family, in his school, with his own grit and determination--or possibly as a result of his sense that he had nothing to lose, that risks were fine, because he was ALREADY bad--he became a creative chemist. And he lived long enough to see his creativity come into fruition, and be recognized.
I applaud him.
But I ache for all those students, the dyslexics and the "bad students," who are less fortunate, and are sent spiraling down to the depths, rather than liberated, by their own difference from others.
Being different has its perils, usually. And occasionally its rewards.
(H/T Mark Goodale at Lausanne for alerting me to this.)
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.
Parents of college students: When you see your kids at Thanksgiving, don’t ask them how they are doing (in terms of grades). Ask them what they’ve learned. Ask what they have enjoyed. Ask what is magical, transformative, even useful.
And students: Don’t play for praise. Don’t learn for me.
Sink in, really be there, and forget about your teachers. Forget about me.
Play, learn, climb the log for yourself.
Gym class is good for you. Vegetables are good for you (and me). It's prudent to know how to avoid credit card fraud. Everyone should know about climate change. We live in a diverse world so we need to learn about cultural diversity. But 1) random disconnected bits of knowledge do not make a person live a meaningful life and 2) when we force students to do something, even when it is good for them, they often try to avoid it or use the minimal energy possible.
Strategies are the main learning outcome of all those years of school. Anyone who flunks strategy basically flunks school.
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.
Just after the 2013 gaokao, Chinese parents in one small city complained, rioted, saying, "We want fairness. There is no fairness if you do not let us cheat."
There is a drama unfolding even as I write: thirty-five suspects have been indicted in a criminal conspiracy, and only a few of them have surrendered to authorities. They face decades in prison and millions of dollars in fines. The deadline for all to give themselves up is today.
Is this about drugs? Kidnapping? Treason? Securities fraud?
Nothing so alien as that; it is an everyday criminal context: It’s about administrators and teachers changing answers on standardized tests in order to boost their schools’ and districts’ scores
Learners Are People, Not Isolated Test-Taking Brains:
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.
SusanBlum.com by Susan D. Blum is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.