Aishwarya Rao, Director, The Vivekalaya Group of Institutions

Aishwarya Rao has a Bachelor’s in Business Management and a Master’s in Education from University of Nottingham, United Kingdom. Since she took on the role of Director in 2011, her focus has been implementing new ideas and revolutionizing the Indian education system to better suit the modern Indian. She has designed and initiated various workshops and programs namely Mommy and Me, The Little Reader, Talent Week, Just Us Two, Feast of Flavours and the invisible quotient.

 

For many teachers and students across the world, quantitative grades are a lot more important that qualitative growth and learning. The fact that students flip to the last page on any report to check their score instead of absorbing the feedback, that parents email teachers to ask for their child’s grades rather than their progress, and the fact that the government education systems are based on only test scores and written examinations, are extremely detrimental to a student’s development. Due to the importance placed on the grading system, students judge their self-worth and intelligence based on their performance in tests, and where they stand amongst their peers in terms of grades.

Examinations, to some extent are good motivating factors that encourage students to study and pay attention during classroom discussions, but classrooms are certainly more than a grading space as they allow for exploration and experimentation. Classroom learning is important for teaching important career-building skills that will help students later in their professional lives, including inculcating skills like presentation skills, oratory skills, communicating skills, team building and team work, discipline and other organisational skills.

The idea that grading defines an individual’s intelligence quotient is archaic at best, and has been proven wrong, time and time again. Many psychological studies in the last decade have discovered the negative effects grades can have on academic progress. Studies have shown that grades often limit effort, curtail inquiry, and prevent exploring depth of subject knowledge. It is an often-highlighted fact that most geniuses and inventors struggled in formal educational settings. While their ability to learn was undoubtedly evident, they had difficulty in formulating and representing the ideas in their head within the confines of a hierarchical atmosphere.

When rid of the looming pressure of outdated formal assessment methods, children can actively engage in organic learning that stems from their own inquisitiveness. Through this curiosity, they discover their passions, hobbies, and interests, which will take them further in life and help them discover themselves. But even if this were not true, and it was possible for every single student to give their best during the examination processes, the grading system may still not be full proof, as feedback from evaluators would be subjective and based on their own opinions and biases.

Grading often regulates students to deliver what is expected of them, based on textbooks and syllabi rather than what they have actually understood or experienced inside and outside the classroom. To combat this, a good practice that teachers can adopt within the classroom environment is encouraging group discussions and assignments that have no direct effect on the students’ final grades. Assigning individual assignments that offer only descriptive feedback and not grades can also be effective in teaching students that their learning doesn’t always need to be quantified and there is always room for discovery, growth and improvement. Quizzes and activities within the classroom setting can be a good way to incite critical thinking skills in students and encourage intrinsic motivation to learn and formulate valid opinions or arguments. Classrooms are also essential for students in developing their individual personality as well as building a rapport with teachers and their peers. These settings make students accountable for their own learning and teach them how to prioritize their time and complete assignments effectively.

Therefore, it can be argued that while grading is required in a large-scale educational environment in order to gauge the overall understanding/ readiness of students, it plays very little part in showcasing their talent, ingenuity, adaptability, or skills; And while grades may be important for students in securing admissions into their preferred higher educational institutions, they lose this inflated value they carry once an individual enters a professional environment. So, it is important that grades do not eclipse a student’s learning or capacity to learn in an effort to define readiness, understanding or intelligence.

The end goal of primary and secondary education must be to highlight a child’s capacity to learn, ability to absorb information, memory power, and apply learnt knowledge in a real-world setting. By providing students with a safe learning space and encouraging learning through questioning, constructive critique and feedback, educators can create platforms for idea generation, spaces for growth, and dens of discovery in their classrooms. Our classrooms should not only showcase what is probable but inspire us to see all which might be possible.

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