The other day, I heard a girl say that she had gone to an elementary school where the teacher’s gave out “not yet’s.” Basically it is the concept of hope, where instead of giving a child a failing grade, it is called a not yet in order to show the child that they just haven’t grasped the concept YET. It is saying, “you’ll get it; you just have a different learning style with this particular concept and that you still have the ability to learn all the things that other kids learn.” I had never heard of this, but the idea really caught on with me.
I follow a Facebook group about teachers against grading, and the hardest thing for me to reconcile with is the realization that we do have to have some form of individual assessment. After all, school is about education, and education is about learning. Or at least that’s my understanding of it. And if children are meant to learn, how can we know what they are learning if we do not have at least some way of finding that out on an individual level. There should be more student collaboration, but what about the kids who don’t perform well with group-work? Education is this balancing act where we all think we know what is best, right? (Not as a whole, but on individual issues we all have our opinions). But is there even a right way? If every child learns a different way, how can any one system work? And yes, there are kids that learn similarly, which is why we look at the majority similarities and base the system around that.
This is why we have so many problems with education, in my opinion. Policy makers try to make the best decisions they can with as much information as possible (that’s the hope, anyway), and when I don’t personally know any of the policy-makers, how can I be the one to judge what their intentions were? I can tell them that they failed, but I’d probably make the same mistakes too. They don’t deserve my judgment. They deserve my help, and the help of others who are equally, if not more, passionate about education. They are not the only ones who need help, though. Children are the ones who really need help, especially the ones who don’t have the same opportunities as other children.
Policy makers, from my perspective, seem so far removed from the actual “thing” they are trying to improve. I mean, look at all the levels of education and how each level has their own right to change the things they have power over. By the time the policy makers are making their decisions and revisions, their over-arching problems are so big they seem impossible to fix. Take one look at the failures of No Child Left Behind and Common Core (among many others) and anyone would think that policy-makers are out of their minds. Look at their intentions, though, and you might find a different story. I’m not saying they’re perfect, nor am I defending their intentions seeing as how I don’t even know what they were. But I like to have hope that those in charge now got started because they saw something in the system that they wanted to fix in order to better our education system as a whole.
That is why I want to fix it. I don’t proclaim to fully comprehend the complexity of every issue that our education system faces, but I want to. And once I have that knowledge, I want to use that power of knowledge to spread the power of educating others in a more just system. I want, I want, I want. Right? It’s what we all want, but how do we, as adults (speaking of my future, more capable self), collaborate to decide what is best for people who don’t yet know what is best for themselves? And who is to say at what age a child stops needing to be told what they have to do and are able to decide that on their own when every child learns and grows at different rates? I can only hope that I will have the knowledge to do what is best once I am finally able to help make the decisions.