Life is a process. You learn as you go, make mistakes, correct those mistakes (or not), then go on about your business, doing it all over again. You do not get a report card at the end of your life or even four times a year. You don’t get a report full of percentages that only show your failures.
I have learned from my mistakes…most of the time. I’ve corrected my bad behavior, gone out and tried it again without the mistake, and usually ended up with better results.
Life can feel like a tug-of-war…but we get to measure our progress as we go. If we fall over the line, we get to pick up the rope, talk to our teammates, and give it another shot.
Our kids…they aren’t so lucky. They are placed in an archaic learning setting where mistakes are not tolerated. They don’t get to grade their own papers and get instant feedback, learning from their mistakes and changing their behavior so it doesn’t happen again.
They are tested on so many things, that unless they are good test takers, they are penalized. If they struggle to read, the tests will come back with low scores. They get failing grades which equates to them being failures.
Life doesn’t come with a report card, so why are we giving them to our students? Sure, they need to have accountability and we certainly need to measure their learning.
In our private school, we use a checklist system. Each subject is divided into a set of smaller skills. From there, we chart each student and their ability to master these skills. If a student doesn’t master a skill, we keep teaching that skill. If he/she masters the skill, we move on to more difficult skills.
The record keeping isn’t any more difficult than a percentage system, and I have never had a parent complain. We can look at a child’s progress report and see exactly where he/she needs help. We get a picture of the child’s learning, not a picture of his/her failure.
I recently had a student enroll in our school. The parent sued the school district and won because this student failed in every subject for grades one through eight. Every report card this parent received told only of her son’s failings. It didn’t show his bright personality, his mechanical ability, his desire to help somebody.
The report cards, thirty-six of them, only showed his failings.
Nobody fails at our private school, because failing isn’t an option.
Yes, we fail in life. But rarely is it on such a grand scale that we can’t pick ourselves up off the bathroom floor and try again tomorrow. If life gave us quarterly report cards where we continuously failed, I doubt if we would be able to pick ourselves up off the bathroom floor.
Checklists, please. Skills charting, please. Accountability, please. Percentages and failing, no thank you.
Life is a process. Not an end product.