Learning by Reality - Valuing Student Work
Jul 26, 2009 Classroom Management 2934 Views
Most of the motivation in fictional education comes from the assigning of a letter grade or a percentage to a paper. This paper has a value of 95% or an A. That project is worth a 76% or a low C. This mark of valuation is assigned by the teacher, often in an arbitrary way. It is based entirely on made-up values because no one values the work for their personal use.
95% is considered great; 76% is a so-so, it probably really wasn't worth that.
Imagine going to a hair dresser or barber and finding that they did a 95% job on your hair. 95% is done perfectly. 5% is messed up, shoddy work.
Would you pay?
Or let's say it was a 3/4 job, with 1/4 of your hairdo done completely wrong against 3/4 done mostly right.
There would be some problems facing that hair cutter. They would soon be out of business.
So why do we teach our children that a 95% job is great and a 76% job is okay?
I try to get around that as a teacher. When I give a writing project to my students, I tell them what I expect. After they turn it in, I go through it quickly. The next day I very demonstratively say, "I have looked at your work and I reject most of it. I do not accept it for this assignment. Please do it again the way I asked." I always end up, at the end of a long process of having them redo it several times, with really good work. But this is still a limited arrangement because we do not take that work to publication and sale to a general market.
On the other hand, when I raised animals as a boy, I remember the times when I forgot to feed them. I would lie there at night, too lazy to get up, but thinking about my poor calf, hungry, spending the night in worse agony than my guilty conscience. The result was a deep sense of responsibility that worked its way into my consciousness.
This is real learning. Learning by producing that which other people value. Learning by meeting other people's needs.
What if your teenager is basing his high school learning on business? He is mowing people's lawns as a service. He does a 90% job, leaving some lines of grass uncut in the back corner. The owner comes out, looks the job over, and says, "Listen, son, I'm not going to pay you what I owe you until you finish the job the way it needs to be."
So your teenager goes back to work until the job is at 100%.
Again, this is real learning.
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