Education is about grading – and that sucks

Post ImageIt is no secret that I have a lot of issues with our education system. I think there are lots of things that could be done better, especially fixing this:

“All through school, from kindergarten up, you were taught that mistakes are a bad thing. You were downgraded for the mistakes that you made.

It is perfectly apparent from what [schools] do in examinations where errors are identified, [that] education is not about learning. It is about grading. Because if they were interested in learning, they would give you the same examination back a week later, to see if you had corrected your mistakes. But they’re not interested in that, they’re interested in giving you a grade.

So it is impressed on you, mistakes are a bad thing. [Ed: And learning by making mistakes is a bad thing.]”

Russell Ackoff Talk, ISSS Cancun 2005, 49th Meeting

Experience should confirm that some of the most important lessons you learn in life come after making a mistake. Too bad the education system doesn’t feel the same way.

Note that in the above quote he doesn’t mention teachers, just schools. I know there are a lot of teachers who would rather help students learn than simply assign them a grade, but their jobs depend on assigning marks. And unfortunately, I think too many teachers put this fact (that they need to produce good test scores) ahead of the educational well-being of their students. For more on this, you should definitely read the first chapter of the wonderful Freakonomics.

Read: Nivi