Monday, May 7, 2012

The Irresponsibility of Grading Responsibility

When I first started blogging I promised myself that I would never post anything that would jeopardize my job.  So I'm not.  We won't talk about the specifics of what has me fired up today.

I will say this, though.  Including homework completion or being prepared for class when factoring grades is bad for students.  It's irresponsible.  It's not good educational practice.  When a student shows up for class without a pencil, give them a pencil, not a zero.

I can hear some teachers out there now.  They're saying, "But, kids need to be responsible to be successful."

And they're right.  But I've never heard of a student who was having trouble completing their homework or being prepared for class that learned responsibility because they got a bunch of zeros in a gradebook.  And I've never read any research that states it works, either.

If you want to teach responsibility, then teach responsibility.  Explicitly.  Teach lessons.  Create a course.  Make it a priority.

If grading is about sharing what students know, then these things have no place in a gradebook.  If grading is about showing the potential our students have for future success, then we should all have a column in our gradebooks for empathy, passion, innovation, and "questions authority".