I have come to learn about an exciting, cutting edge teaching/learning site called HASTAC (anyone can join)


In it I found a blog regarding a lecture given by Professor Cathy N. Davidson (Duke University) on “The Invention of Failure.” Where she reflected on the industrial approach to education as the source of our frustrating success/failure concepts and the constricting, counter-intelligent grading systems in our schools – a system that I always have found as limiting thought, risk-taking, and actual learning in the classroom.
Richard Rorty taught us that the concept we use are not written in stone anywhere but are our own creations and they can easily be changed when they cause more pain than happiness.
Can we begin a discussion about creating classrooms where learning and not grades is the focus? Can we find ways of creating learning spaces in our classrooms where everyone succeeds? At different aspects of learning…at different subtopics… at different approaches to learning as a social act?
In my classes I give every student an A on the first day. From that point on all they each have to do is hold on to that A by putting in thought and work. They have the right to do less work and put in less thought when their life circumstances are overwhelming (we are all only human) – they grade themselves at the end of the semester (in a letter to me) and if I agree with their evaluation, that is the grade they receive, or if not, we discuss…
Imagine how great it is for the teacher (me) not having to give tests, grade on a curve, give 20 page papers… The students work on projects, individually and in groups and their work is evaluated for content and understanding with (if necessary) opportunities to rewrite, rework, rethink, learn from others and succeed.
Learning is something only a learner can do so by teaching about reflective practice, we can bring our students to a proactive place where they will both take responsibility for their own learning and learn to evaluate it – a tool for real life.

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