Mrs. Imani Stephen
23 October 2012
The Importance of Grades in School
Alfie Kohn explains in his article, From Degrading to De-grading, that traditional letter/number grades are a waste of time. Kohn believes teachers wrongly relish the moments they get to assign a student a grade. His opinion of the best teacher is the one that despises the grade book and wonders about the thought of giving grades at all. Alfie Kohn provides many reasons supporting his beliefs. For example, grades reduce the student’s interest to learn the material and reduce their preference for a challenge. When grades are in the picture, the student’s quality of thinking is diminished. It is also argued that grades are unreliable, not valid, and have the ability to distort the curriculum. He believes grades waste time that could be spent on learning more material and concepts. Students are also more susceptible to cheating if they feel the pressure to have good grades. Lastly, the student’s relationship with the teacher and other students could be negatively affected by the stress of grades (Kohn). However, traditional grading is essential to track the student’s progress, give them a sense of competition, and be accepted into colleges.
Kohn goes on to point out common objections to the no-grades system. Schools are afraid of the major changes that would be required to implement the unheard of policy (Kohn). The article points out that grades could encourage cheating. Students feel pressure to get good grades and in return cheat on homework and tests to uphold that expectation. Also, the amount of time that teachers spend on grading and the time that students spend on stressing about grades, could be spent on learning more information.
Kohn mentions the problem of laziness and the attitude of doing just enough to get an “A.” He blames this problem on the presence of grades, but laziness is actually based on the individual and his own work ethic, as well as the...