Morning, all. So, one of the objections that I anticipated has already been raised by Megahn in her response to my proposed approach for next year. So, since it’s out on the table, I would like to address it, for I imagine it is not Megahn’s concern alone.
Anticipated Objection #4: It is not fair to give all kids the same grade. If one kid works really hard and another kid does nothing, and they both get the same grade, then that is not fair. There have to be consequences for actions.
Reasoned Response #4: I understand this line of thinking. I have lived it–more or less–for the nearly forty years that I have been in the public-school system as either a student or a teacher. When I was Megahn’s age, I would have written her letter; she echos what would have been my sentiment at the time. I was Megahn. Even as recently as seven years ago, when I was completing my master’s degree, I recall being annoyed that essentially everyone in the grad program received A’s . One particular moment comes to mind when I had spent 40+ hours on my leadership-platform paper, and a peer had spent only 2 hours on it the night before, and we both received a 4.0. I was incredulous, miffed at the unfairness of it all. How could he get the same grade? It was unfair. It was…I get it. I get it, Megahn, trust me, I get it. It is unfair. But.
But, I see things differently now. I have to. Disappointed and disillusioned by the current realities in school, with kids disengaged and unmotivated, with learning on life support, I decided–as you all know by now–to approach things differently to help restore and revitalize the true purpose of education: learning. And that requires new thinking, a step away from tradition, a step that will challenge conventional wisdom, which includes that which we have always thought fair and just: hard work pays off, and choices have consequences.
For the next two years, kids will make choices, as they always have, but now their choices will be based on their commitment to their learning, not their compliance to the system. You see the A is a gift but it is not the reward. It is a shiny trinket meant to please in the moment. The reward is learning. And as I suggested earlier this week, I can give grades but I cannot give learning. Yes, every kid will be given an A next year, but every kid will not reach the same learning end next year. The A is of no real consequence in the end. In the end, what matters is the learning, and that learning will carry consequences far into the future. Sadly some kids will not “live into” their A’s next year, and for the moment it will seem a victory as that A appears on their transcripts, but it will be a shallow victory that will catch up with them at some point–it always does. So, for my Megahns out there, I would counsel that you not worry about others’ paths. Let them be. They, as you, will make choices. And they, as you, will face consequences. What they receive as a grade, has no bearing on what really matters in the end: your learning.
And that is the mind shift that I want my approach to carry: kids concerned first and kids concerned most about their learning. Not this person’s. Not that person’s. Their own. And not for mom. And not for dad. And certainly not for me. For themselves. For it is they alone who will reap the rewards. Or not. Actions will have consequences. They always do.
Happy Friday, all. Thank you for the feedback and support this week. Have a great weekend.