Why letter grades are evil
So, your kid comes home from school with an F in English. What the hell, right? Holy dear crap, they’d better be grounded, we’d better make sure this doesn’t happen again. They must really just be slacking off, or not trying, or something, right??
Hello, I am a human being coherently communicating with you even though I have never been given a single letter grade in all of my education.
I was homeschooled, and before you see that word and click off of this, please just hear me out.
What do I mean when I said I didn’t get a letter grade at all?
Well, let’s talk about the learning process for a minute.
When you learn things outside of school, how does it work? You bake a cake, and it doesn’t exactly come out perfect, so you gather the ingredients, and next time you bake it’s a little better.
You learn, naturally, by doing. And by making mistakes. You make a mistake, you make a mental note, and you learn better.
Now, the reason this is important is because school sort of promotes the opposite of this.
In a traditional American school setting, the student is given some information, and then tested on it. This test, results in a letter grade, telling them how good they did, and then they move on to new material.
They don’t get to make the mental note and move on. What you are punishing your children for, is literally taking the first step in learning. You are taking that first step, the part where they SHOULD be allowed to make that mental note to do better next time, and punishing them for not knowing exactly how to do it, the first time they tried.
Imagine if that was applied to other parts of life. Imagine you screw up on your first day of work at a new job and they immediately write you up, and tell you that if you don’t get your act together they’ll fire you.
Imagine if artists were graded on their first ever drawing and never given another chance.
That’s not how learning works.
Now, I bet you’re wondering how I got by without letter grades.
Well, when I was presented with, let’s say, a times table page from 3rd grade, I filled out all that I knew, after I studied, and then the ones I got wrong were circled. After that, we went over why I got those wrong, and how I could fix them. The paper was then revisited, and occasionally given a percentage, but never a letter, and more often than not, we didn’t stop revisiting that same page until it said 100%.
The percentages were more of a mark of how finished with the work/page/section we were, than how well I did.
Because I was always given a chance to go back and revisit the same material until I learned it.
So if your kid is getting a bad grade, you punish them for it?
Ok, I hear what you’re saying, maybe little johnny is just honestly lazy (at the age of 8), so maybe he should be punished for not doing his work, right?
Well, why isn’t he doing it? Is it hard for him to concentrate? Does he understand what the teacher is saying? If he had another chance, would that F be an A?
I understand that not every parent has the time or resources to homeschool. Heck, I work two jobs, I wouldn’t have time myself.
But just, please think twice before you ground them for those “bad” grades. If they didn’t do their work, open the conversation about why. Maybe they’re struggling with a certain subject because it’s not being explained in a way they understand.
Everyone’s brains are different, and yet, our schooling system is “one size fits all”. I might learn something in a completely different way than you do, but if the class is teaching it the way I understand it, and not the way you understand it, you’re out of luck.
I know we can’t exactly fix the school system right now, but if you ease up on your children about grades, that’ll at least let them try to function in a broken system without that added pressure.
And remember that every time a parent takes their kid out of the traditional public schooling system, it sends a message. A pretty loud one.
Please don’t let your first reaction to a low grade be punishment. That just doesn’t make logical sense.
Ok, I’m done ranting now. If you’ve read this far, thank you. If you choose to reblog this, you’re one of my favorite people.