Dear Points….We need to break up. Inspired by @MrPicc112

Dear Points,

We have been together for many years and we have had an intense relationship. When we first began I thought you were everything, in fact, I built my entire world around you.

Almost everything I did was to serve you, to meet your needs. I set up my classroom (in rows and purchased dividers) to service you.

I spent endless hours making up NEW elaborate tests every year and every semester just so I could collect you. Each time thinking, this time I’ll get it right.

I would display columns of you to parents, students, administrators and even other teachers! Believing you had the same intentions as I.

I wrote policy after policy on how to collect you. Each September anew, believing I could finally make sense of you and get a handle on how you impacted my life.

I spent days of my life deciding who should get you and how you should be shared. I discussed, explained, analysed, collected, emailed, and compared you; it was endless and never-ending.

You demanded so much of me, that at times I had to take days off of work just to manage you.

I gave you all of this and more and look how you have treated me and others in return?

You told me you were going to help children learn, you promised. These are children here!  Ones who are full of curiosity, passion and raw enthusiasm.

You made a mockery out of my intentions to share my joy for learning with children. At first I believed that you had everyone’s best intentions at heart. Now I realize that you are manipulative, self-serving and controlling. Instead of caring about learning you cause children to become mindless point collectors who care for little more than “is it for points?” and “how many points is it out of?”

You single-handedly caused children to become highly developed point-gathering-strategists, who care nothing about learning, NOTHING. Instead they’ve become fixated on the mindless manipulation of you and how you are acquired. You are the direct cause of cheating, stealing, truancy, stress, mistrust and homework clubs (where one student at a time does the work so the group can acquire points).

You make students, say aloud and right to my face “Well if the lab is not for points, I don’t want to do it! Why bother?” Do you know how much that hurts?

You have made me say things like “Get it done or I’ll take it in for points!”. Or even worse “I’ll have to take points off for that!”

But you know what is worst of all, the final straw and the biggest insult?

It is that you made me begin to hate what I love most.

I love to learn, I love it!  Even more so, I love learning with children. It might sound corny to you, but I feel exhilarated when I see a child light up when they are fully engaged in the magic flow of learning.

Over the years, you have demanded more and more of me. In fact, I have no time for anything else; you have kept me from learning, interacting, and growing as a teacher and as a person.

I wasn’t confident before, to break free from you and stand up for what I believe in. I doubted myself and everyone told me I could trust you.

But points, I am ready to break free of you and the ball and chain that is holding me back.

Hear that SBG? I am on the market.

9 thoughts on “Dear Points….We need to break up. Inspired by @MrPicc112

  1. OK. This is fabulous. Absolutely brilliant and beautifully executed. I shall share widely. Thank you!

    • Hi Christopher, thanks you for your readership and interest.Appreciate hearing that it resonated with you, it was a heart felt break up, and took months to work up to.

    • I completely agree. I not only agree with your observations, I also really think that your writing and style on this post is amazing. Thank you for articulating what I feel.

      I am fortunate to work in a school which makes an effort to separate behaviours from outcomes. Obviously there is a relationship, but we spend so much energy monitoring the behaviours that I think we forget about the intended outcome, the students’ learning.

      • David, it is scary to share what I feel as a teacher, but boy oh boy does it feel better when I do. It is relief and reassuring to know others might have similar feelings about point driven assessment. Thanks for sharing that with me.
        We have tried at our school and in our district to separate learning from behaviors, but points are sneaky in the way the can be used/abused to muddle the issue. I have found more clarity and certainty in my first attempts with standards based grading (it clears up all the blemishes with only one application!). I am still struggling with students who want (and understandably so) to “play points”and get quite upset when I suggest we “play learning”. Baby steps!

  2. Carolyn I am deeply humbled that I have inspired this break up. Thanks for showing the dark side of points (I know it is hard to relive those moments). I hope that we get to hear more about how SBG has influenced, and improved your teaching.

    • Timon, learning is such a fabulously tangled, intricate and personal equation. I have been struggling over the last several days to express my disenchantment with point driven assessment. Your tweet last night about being called a “propagandist” reminded me of your post on SBG, which I went back and read again. Then presto…I woke up with clarity. Momentarily clouded pre-coffee, by thinking I had somehow offended you!
      Step one. The journey continues.
      thanks for sharing,
      best, c

  3. […] the fellow educators I follow on Twitter (@okmbio) who also uses a flipped classroom model. “Dear Points….We need to break up. Inspired by @MrPicc112”  An interesting read for anybody who keeps a gradebook based on […]

  4. I just heard you are back on the market after breaking up with Points, and would like to endorse my good friend AFL to you. You are both about LEARNING and will have so much in common. By the way, I broke up with Percentages just a few years ago and have never been happier. 🙂 Good luck with this!

    • Hi Peter, thanks for your comment and readership. I dated AFL for awhile but am now in a relationship with Standards Based Grading (which embraces AFL) which has been going well so far. I am glad to hear that you too dumped points! Best,

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