Monday, April 29, 2013

What if there were no grades in school?

At The Clearwater School, children are trusted with the freedom and responsibility to direct their own education. Without grades, groupings by age or mandatory tests, children engage wholeheartedly in their passions, and find their own standards of success. Students spend years setting and achieving their personal goals, becoming resourceful, self-confident and skilled adults with a commitment to their own success.

Post by David Linder, Clearwater parent

Imagine at the end of every day at work, your employer handed you a card with a list of everything you’d done wrong and everything you’d (in their eyes) done right. 

Every PowerPoint presentation greeted with a thumbs up or thumbs down. All your email corrected for perfect grammar and sent back to you.

In a very short time, you’d learn exactly what your employer wanted and what they didn’t want.  After a while, you might even be the perfect employee, knowing exactly how to please them. 

And then you change jobs. Or get a promotion. Or quit to start your own business. And all of a sudden, you have no idea what’s right – there are different people to please, different rules to follow. You find it impossible to improvise, to be flexible, to be creative. Without the immediate feedback, you’re stuck.

This is the environment we often put children in. We evaluate their homework, their tests, their attendance, their attentiveness--even their effort. 

Grades teach kids how to react to someone else’s judgment. In a typical school, we grade kids for almost 20 years.  Then we send them out in the world and complain that they don’t know what they are doing, that they aren’t independent enough.

David is the dad of three Clearwater students and co-owner of Sublime Media in Seattle. 

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