Pros and Cons of Standardized Education
Although Alfie Kohn attacks the grading system specifically, he would agree with John Taylor Gatto’s claim that the standardization of schools is focused on the “mass-producing of unimaginative, conformist, mediocre children .” Both display a cynical tone about a system that is plagued by a “factory-oriented approach.” While validated by research, theorist and historians, their criticisms are not true for every student involved in the United Sates educational system. One clear problem that both Kohn and Gatto sees is that students are lacking the ability to be creative and inventive. In other words, students are unimaginative. Kohn believes grading systems reduce the quality of students thinking because grades reduce a student’s interest in learning. Their lack of motivation is caused by the fact that they view any work for school as a task or chore when a grade is attached. He confirms this reason with research done in the field of motivational psychology. The research found that “the more people are rewarded for doing something, the more they tend to loose interest in whatever they had to do to get the reward.” In a student’s case, the grade, particularly a high grade, is the reward. Thus, this lack of motivation effects a student’s ability to think deeply. Moreover, grades “encourage a fact- and skill-based approach to instruction.” This approach stifles creativity as facts are simply told as truths since they are concepts already explored or events that occurred. While it is important to learn facts, it is also vital to explore for oneself and think critically about past events. To simply remember, according to Kohn, is not enough. Gatto would most likely not be surprised by Kohn’s reference to studies that proved no matter what grade level a student is in, grading decreases interest in learning. He would see it as inevitable from a school system that does not give students education but rather “forced-schooling.”...
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