Yesterday I engaged in a conversation regarding “Grades”. What do they tell us, how do they guide us, why are they important, are they important? As an educator, I’ve spent the last few years exploring my beliefs about the purpose of education. I thought I had wrapped my head around the facts, explored options and come to the conclusion that for me, the purpose of education is to create members of society who are Lifelong learners, who have acquired skills to help them explore their interests, solve problems and ideally, at some point in the future, find a career using a passion they had discovered along the way.
I know my beliefs are my own, and not an accurate reflection of the current systems around the world. My hope is that we are continuously evolving and heading in a new direction. A few years ago, the release of the Ontario “Growing Success” document had me nodding my head in agreement, happy to see the focus on feedback and formative assessment. As a parent I looked forward to having honest feedback from teachers in regards to my children’s learning styles, strengths and needs to help guide their learning. When the Creating Pathways to Success document came out last year, I loved the focus it put on having children learn more about themselves through self exploration right from the start of their education and continuing to reflect and explore until the day they exit the system.
Personally, I always believed that self-exploration was one of the most important things we can do to help discover our passions and our strengths that would help guide our future career choices and pathways. As a guidance counselor I was always saddened by the fact that students never seemed to take it as seriously as I thought they should. From my experience students were exploring their futures in the wrong direction. Students and parents always seem to start with “What job do I want?” instead of “What am I good at?” and “What do I enjoy?”. Don’t you think it’s important to figure out who you are before you project yourself on a path that doesn’t align with your strengths and passions?
I thought I had it all straight in my head…and then the “mom” came out in me.
How am I supposed to know if my daughter is learning if I don’t know her mark? If my daughter doesn’t realize the work she is doing at school is teaching her anything is she actually learning? All my son does at school is play, how can he be learning if all he is doing is having fun? Let’s not even go to the EQAO questions/comments that flew out of my mouth too!
Then the anger and disbelief came…how can someone who has invested quite a bit of time thinking about and discussing this topic still rely so heavily on traditional evaluations to determine her own children’s strengths and weaknesses. If I honestly haven’t convinced myself this method will work, how am I going to support others on their quest to change the way they run their classrooms?
I guess the time is now, to dig a little deeper, to find people who share my similar interests and to work hard to change the views of the general public…starting with the “Mom” in me!