Jun 16, 2012

Homeschooling Tip 7 : Who Will Evaluate?

By Juli Herman 


According to Alfie Kohn, grading is a big no no, because the whole concept of grading takes away from the aspect of self-ownership of the learning process from the student. However, we can’t completely get away from grading, because in order to move forward, progress needs to be measured at some point. Thus, he suggests an alternative: involve the students in determining the evaluation criteria for a project or a paper. For example, if your older child is about to embark on a project, sit together with him and ask his input on how he thinks his final project should be graded/evaluated. If he is to make a poster on a topic, for instance, lay out the rubric for the final evaluation. Have him allocate how many points there should be for design, content, presentation, creativity, etc. In this process, you will actually engage him in designing the project himself, and it will give him more drive to do a good job, because he feels he has some control over the whole thing. It’s not something that he just has to do and that will be graded in the end, but it’s something that he has helped to form from the very beginning.

You will surprisingly find that the kids will be harder on themselves when asked to evaluate their own work. Do the same with writing. You may look or come up with writing rubric, but before you rubric your child’s writing assignment, have her rubric it first. Then you rubric it, and afterwards, whatever differences there are between yours and her rubric, should be discussed. It would also make for an interesting and beneficial discussion as your child is engaged in evaluating his own work, and not completely relying on someone else’s evaluative criteria.

This is an excellent way to develop analytical and critical evaluative skills in your child with regards to his own work. It brings forth the active participation in his learning rather than leaving the judgment of a work well done to someone else. This gives him more ownership of his work, and may even help him be his own strongest advocate in striving for excellence in whatever he does. It also brings about a sense of competition with the self, which in my humble opinion is psychologically and spiritually healthier than competition with others based on evaluative standards that are determined by someone else.

In case you can't get the Alfie Kohn link, here it is: http://www.alfiekohn.org/index.php

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below! :)


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