Report Cards

Tuesday, June 16, 2015   by: Bill Walton

I listened to an interesting discussion on CBC radio the other day about why we no longer need those harmful report cards for our school children. It seems, according to this academic, that we have been harming children, discouraging children and even traumatizing them for far too many years. It must stop. Many studies have found that children do not respond well to having someone, a teacher or parent, grade them on their abilities and progress in learning the ABCs or the 3 Rs.

This has nothing to do with the workload or responsibilities of the teachers and in no way reflects on how well the teacher is preforming because someone, somewhere has assured us that the teacher, certificate or diploma in hand, has passed all the rigorous tests demanded for their accreditation. Doctors, dentists and accountants all hang their diplomas on their office walls – a sort of report card that says we can trust them because they passed all their tests.

In the future we may not be so confident that our physician knows his trade; indeed he or she might have been that challenged learner who went through the elementary and secondary schools based on their enthusiasm for sports, sharing, or creative arts and crafts. Or they may have been a regular Einstein and could have aced any test or exam had they been given such an opportunity.

I suppose the people who claim we ought to stop the report cards have a valid point. The real tests in life will come much later when these students enter the work place – or do not - and begin preforming daily tasks. Providing these people can read and comprehend words and they have their smart communication devices at hand, they ought to be able to perform their tasks with the safety and well-being to others we expect of them.

The thing that worries me a little - not much because I won’t be around to witness or experience the excitement of life when these ungraded people take over – is that the people writing the applications, drawing the blueprints, mixing the chemicals for our food and pills all passed the tests that proved they do know what they are doing. Somewhere, some time somebody has to decide on a person’s qualifications. And they may have to pass a test or write an exam to prove it.

However, the people who did the studies on why we do not need report cards may be correct in their assessment of the old way of doing things. I certainly remember the high dramatics on the day the final report cards were handed out at school. Some of my reports cards had numbers, others had letters but you surely knew whether you had passed and were moving on to the next grade. And Mom and Dad knew it too.

Oh well, things change. We are marching forward into a new age. The Dark Ages are behind us. All you need to do is to read or listen to the daily news to confirm that.

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