Have you noticed this policy at your school or district?
Ironic - We here are talking about how might we get children and adults to embrace failure, yet have this policy, that we do not realize it in the first place.
Replying to Aaron Wilson-Ahlstrom's comment on on my post, I was able to uncover this policy. Thank you my friend.
We were discussing about why, there is very little feedback mechanism to help students improve over time.
I thought feedback mechanisms are missing in most classrooms today due to the following reasons
1. Less teacher to child ratio
2. More stress on quantity rather than quality (In terms of deliverables for the teacher)
3. The final exam/test being the last hurdle for progress to the next level-
The last one beats me all the time. Why I personally hated it. We used to joke about it. Say if you were learning to ride a bike and you were able to ride but not turn right or left. According to the system it was ok to pass you to the next level and hand you over a motor bike. To me that is what "B" & "C"'s meant. Not that I got all "A"'s. In fact I got mostly "C"'s in school. But I was cool with it as it did not require me to change a thing. So my motto became - Just don't get a "D" and I am fine, why waste time.I am sure many children see it the same way as well. That is why I am now trying to spur up a change in a broken system.
Now this does not happen in other fields - Say Army, Say Football - One either makes or does not. If they do not they try again.
I feel that many schools/district have a "No Child Fail Behind" Policy - which I think actually hinders the development of the child. As it only gets tougher as the years progress and all the failures add up.
I am sure most us are thinking how can we fail a child? we should let them pass. I am not proposing all children need not get an "A". I personally hate the grading system, and have little regard for it. Grading to me should be like a drivers license test - One has to show a certain skill proficiency to be able to drive on the road. Now some can become Dale Earnhardt Jr's or just the driver next door. But they have to show and display the skill proficiency.
So What is the Solution?
1. Now one might say isn't that what the grade system is - I firmly believe NO. If I were to use the grading system in the current format then I think children need to get to a skill proficiency/level of nothing short than "B+" to be able to go to the next level. Think about it - one should be able to parallel park to get a license. There are other easier tasks - Stop at all railroad crossings, give indicator and change lanes etc. But without a min pass score = 75-80 (not sure the exact number as it varies from state to state) - there is no drivers license. The min is not 40 - not 50 even. Think about it. We do not want people on the streets being potential harmful for other drivers.
Now isn't it the exact opposite of what we are doing at schools. What do you think is the min passing grade/mark? How do you think this is going affect the other children/citizens on the road?
2. Have mini tests with following feedback
This is why I am also a strong proponent of skill based learning an measuring. Now going back to the same bicycle example, simple goals might be as follows
- Learn to ride with trainer wheels
- Learn to take a left/right
- Learn an S turn
- Biker Safety
- Learn hand signals
- Learn to stop within 2 feet
- Learn to ride without trainer wheels
- Learn to ride on the road
- Road Rules & Safety
- Next Level - Motor Bike - 150CC
- Next Level - Motor Bike - 500CC
Most curriculum start with this model. But I think they fail in giving feedback and making the kids master the skill. Feedback gets kids to become proficient in that skill and then only allow them to go to the next.
If we keep the bicycle and motor bike model in our mind, we could never then allow our children to move on before the skill is mastered.
Let us make sure that we as educators do not have a secret "No child fail behind policy" but a "We make every child a skillful driver - 100% Guaranty" policy.