Do you have a child? If not you can play along…
Let’s scan, in your mind’s eye, the life you imagine with your child.
Does it include travel? Does it have family activities or adventures?
Does it involve your child partaking in activities like dance, reading, yoga or hockey?
Maybe you envision camping trips, hiking, or riding bikes?
Perhaps you dream of taking your child to New York City to see a Broadway show?
Maybe sharing a Canucks’ game?
Regardless…money probably is not THE central focus of your family. In context however, money matters and will make a difference to the decisions you make as a family.
In the above schema context is everything; the value of money is related to the value we place on experiences we share with our children (not to imply that only those that cost money are valuable). We as a society share ideals and dreams we have for our children and some of these cost money.
Let’s follow the same process with your child’s education. Let’s imagine your child’s life as they move through school. What do you dream for them? Do you encourage them to follow their hearts and find a passion? Do you imagine they might follow a passion into post secondary education? If at age 5 your child has a dream, to write, design, sing or care for animals, would you discourage or support them? Would you do everything in your power to make their dream a reality? Your child reaches high school, their passion still in place as they head into Grade 12. As you discuss post secondary plans with them, ONE of the variables in the discussion will be your child’s marks.
#truestory or not?
Marks can be used badly….just as money has the potential for abuse. But can’t marks be used as a meaningful way to document growth and progress? When we react to the misuse of traditional point based marks do we serve our children?
In context… marks matter to our children and the choices they can make (for grade 11 and 12 students). Lets recreate how we define marks and evolve our marking systems (updating report cards to provide information related to the specifics of your child, using grading practices not based solely points). Let’s engage in a conversation in the grey areas between traditional marking system and no marks….
The hard conversation is not the one that decides that marks are “bad”. Marks can be misused and abused. Marks can be used for behavior modification, marks can be used as punishment, marks can be given as rewards for Kleenex boxes, cans of beans for food drives, and marks can be bought and sold. But does this mean marks are bad in ALL situations.
If we are to topple the tyrannies inherent in our existing mark system, let’s address and rectify the abuses that exist within the system right now. Let’s work to create marking schemas that allow students to show what they know over a spectrum of time and ways. Let’s not, because our present marking system is outdated and rife with problems, walk away with our children sitting in these chairs right now. Let’s work consistently and conscientiously with children, with parents, to make marks matter that fulfill dreams and aspirations. Marks that enable rather than disable.
The hard conversation is the one that recognizes that our children receive marks. That is a fact. Marks may be part a dream, as money might be part of a dream.
This is where we need to converse and put the spotlight. Not on mark hate, but on mark smarts.
Not on the polarized conversation for and against marks. We can do less marks, just as we can discover activities that don’t require money. Let’s not go black and white, let’s do grey. Lets build a mark system that empowers and matters.
Let’s make context our conversation. Let’s work to make marks matter in the way our children matter.