I always have thought that the essence of learning was surprise. That feeling we get when we encounter a totally new idea—that’s surprise, a kind of delighted amazement makes us crave more. So I wonder if our desire to make education more tidy is actually deadening it for our students. In our quest to measure everything, we are leaving the frosting and sprinkles off the cupcakes.
I teach composition, critical thinking, and literature at a community college in the San Francisco Bay Area. For over two years, my teaching has been gradeless, as much as my institution will allow. I assign no letter grades or point values to essays, quizzes, or […]
After spending a weekend at a retreat with a group of other teachers, I came away worried about whether teaching can be a sustainable profession—whether it can be done over the course of decades, with vigor, love, and increasing excellence. So many teachers I know […]
Several semesters ago, I applied a concept called “Specifications Grading” to my composition and literature classes. If you are interested in alternatives to traditional grades, I recommend Specifications Grading by Linda Nilson. In this book, she explains ways that teachers can “specify” the requirements for a specific […]