Who Gets the Credit?

Summer is a great time for reflection, catching up on some reading, and recharging the batteries. Yes children need to recharge. Here is a summer reflection.

When it comes to Standardized Grading – Who Really Gets the Credit?

One of the hallmarks of a Montessori education is the intrinsic motivation our children thrive on. They do not need grades. They do not need an adult to tell them what to learn. They do not need someone to tell them they did a good job. The end result of this internally motivated system is that the child can take credit for their work. No one else can take that away from them. In traditional educational settings, I have heard repeatedly students say “the teacher gave me a_______(grade).” No, the teacher did not give you a grade, the student worked for that grade. But somehow in that equation, the teacher seems to be the one who gets the credit. Students look to please adults by getting “good” grades. The grades become the focus, not the work. Children innately understand when they do their best work. It does not be validated by a grading system. Grades rob the child of the credit of hard work, work they take pride in, and ultimately of deeper learning and understanding.

The Montessori teacher transfers the credit to the child by reflecting back to them, and guiding them to do their best work. The child and the teacher work together by nurturing curiosity, creativity, and asking powerful questions. Children are naturally curious. If you work for the grade you are eliminating pathways of learning. When you ultimately arrive at an answer, a solution, mastery of a concept, the child can take the credit because they took ownership and responsibility.

So as we recharge this summer, let’s reflect on our best moments of true understanding. Those moments were free from “the carrot” of grades and comprised of hard work, joy, and freedom to navigate learning on one’s own terms.

-Whitney Slade

Riverbend School (H.O.S)