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Ashley Poupart

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Is basing our traditional education system strictly on grading ruining our creativity?

One of my professors actually received an education at a University that did not support a traditional grading system and he said that it was the best education he had ever received. My question is if the traditional school systems and the use of grading teaches us that if we make mistakes you will be penalized, do you think that by switching to another type of education system we could eliminate the our fear of making mistakes while still promoting a creative learning environment?

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  • Feb 11 2013: Rote learning doesn't demand creativity. But rote learning is ridiculous. Is knowing your multiplication tables a self-contained end, or does it empower you to manage your finances and create new technologies etc.?

    Education does two things. It allows you to be an industrial cog in the economy (no creativity needed), and it allows you to innovate. Each are a different type of education. Grading promotes rote learning and industrial drones (I speak negatively of it, but it is a necessary function for many people that would rather be cogs). You're asking this question because you're more the innovator type.

    So I submit an educational system where instead of letting teachers provide arbitrary number grades, let the market grade you. For example, the market doesn't care what your grades in school were, they're only interested in what you can provide for them. So imagine a system where the market is your feedback and resume builder (instead of test grades and GPA). Imagine going to an employer and showing them you have success marketing X amount of products in X amount of industries and generating X amount of dollars of revenue. Wouldn't your learning be so much more creative and valuable than if you had been graded on your understanding of theory?
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      Feb 11 2013: I think critical thinking and creative thinking are part of problem solving and thus need to be a focus of everyone's education, regardless of specific career/job ambitions.

      There is no one for whom rote learning is adequate, which is why, I believe, the focus has shifted so far from rote learning now in schools.

      I don't see that grading necessarily promotes rote learning. Ashley is at university, where she presumably writes thoughtful papers, which are likely not done by rote, as originality of thesis and argument is something professors tend to value and reward- or at least is at all the universities with which I am intimately familiar. Even in mathematics and science classes at university, problem solving may well require some ingenuity rather than a simple application of obvious algorithms with new numbers in them.

      I think the main negative effect of college grading is not that you will get better grades if you are a rote learner but rather that grades cause students stress (particularly as they often ride on what happens in two two hour intervals within a whole term) and in some cases may discourage students from taking as challenging coursework as they otherwise might, depending on how wedded to the highest possible grades a student is.
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    Feb 11 2013: What need is there for creativity in the process of learning the multiplication tables? My point is that the charter of educators should not include the inculcation and development of personal creativity in each student. The application of things learned is creativity. Learning the things does not require creativity, it only requires attention to the teaching and the necessary mental faculties. Sure, a creative teaching style is more fun and arguably more efficient than a dry, rote style of teaching but creativity is never a strict requirement on the part of students. From a different angle let me ask this, does a driver's test ruin the creativity of those taking the test? Is there a place for creativity in a driver's test? So, without tests and grading how would it be determined that the person has gained the experience and knowledge necessary to be a safe, capable driver? Tests and grading are the only way to quantify the effectivity of the teacher and the learning of the student. I don't think creativity plays an important role in the learning, as distinct from the teaching, process.
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    Feb 11 2013: Of course it does. It was designed to do that. It was designed for an industrial age where taking direction, being told what to do, listening to authority was also a product that the industrial age needed. We were producing workers. Unfortunately we need less workers now and more thinkers but the education system has not changed.
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    Feb 11 2013: I think basing an educational system on grading would be a horrible idea, if that were done.

    I think feedback of some kind is vital, with narrative feedback particularly useful. There is plenty of research to support this idea.

    I think having grades as part of the feedback has different effect on different students, but an absense of feedback would make it hard for students to judge well what they understand and where they need further work.

    I have a guess as to which university he attended. Might it have been UC Santa Cruz? I believe the students there a few decades ago asked to be permitted to request grades in their classes because the ones who were higher performing wanted their records to distinguish them from the lower performers when they applied to grad school or for other opportunities. Narrative comments, they felt, did not adequately do this.