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Topic: group projects
Replies: 10   Last Post: Mar 30, 1995 4:58 PM

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Michael Paul Goldenberg

Posts: 7,041
From: Ann Arbor, MI
Registered: 12/3/04
Re: group projects
Posted: Mar 26, 1995 1:27 PM
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Not to suggest something radical, but the discussion about grade grubbing
raises several provocative questions.

1) Why do students change from inherently curious creatures who are
naturally motivated to pursue their interests (not all of which, of
course, may be what school requires), into "grubbers" who are primarily
concerned with some "authority's" evaluation of them as reflected in
grades? How do they learn to be this way? Who teaches them this attitude?

2) Assuming your answers to the above questions conform closely to my
own, then I raise the more fundamental question: What is the
justification for the grade system? Do we really believe that the alleged
benefits of grades outstrip the inherent liabilities of virtually every
grading system: namely the tendency for evaluation to drive "learning"
and curriculum? If there are no conceivable alternatives to grades, is it
appropriate for teachers to grade their own students? Isn't there an
inherent contradiction in having teachers, who are supposed to support
and encourage students, act as judges? Isn't there a conflict of
interests for teachers if their OWN worth hangs on a similar system of
evaluation (e.g., standardized test scores, "normal" grade distributions,
etc.)?

3) Why do we blame students for being exactly what we teach them to be?
Why are we surprised that they learn the fundamental lessons of school so
well? Namely, that product, not quality, is what is valued. That being
"right" is more important than understanding. That coming up with answers
on a test under timed conditions is indicative of one's value as a human
being.

If this sounds in any way bitter or accusatory, I don't apologize for
sounding that way. I'm fundamentally tired of hearing complaints about
what's wrong with our students. The answer, quite simply, comes down to
their ability to reflect back to us PRECISELY what we teach them: WHADJYAGET?
Not, What do you think?

So, what do YOU think?


-michael paul goldenberg/University of Michigan





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