Kohn criticizes the prevailing methods of assessment and proposes asystem that relies on the relationship between the student andteacher to provide feedbacks and holistic evaluation (Kohn 38). Iwonder how the education can be so wrong about such an obvious issueabout testing students objectively. Would it probably be that Kohn isblowing the issue out of proportion in order to convince people abouthis model about the ineffectiveness of the testing systems? AlthoughI would not refute some of his comments about the grading systemssince I personally crammed answers for my last summative assessmentin order to fill the right answers, I feel that the article fails toprovide a comprehensive scope of the current methods. In this light,I will critic Kohn’s ideas in the article “From Degrading toDe-grading” in order to show that the present testing methods areimportant in a competitive society. In a bid to perform this task, Iwill present a multidimensional perspective on the system suggestedby Kohn in relation to the current one.
It is essential to consider distinct evaluation methods like the onesuggested by Kohn. However, Kohn does not present an additionalmethod of evaluation but rather seeks to abolish and replace thecurrent system completely. I think that formative assessments areessential in designing education and do not portray all thedisadvantages described by Kohn on categorizing performance. Thismethod does not punish learners for their mistakes since it seeks todetermine how students are learning. The summative assessment assignsgrades and values according to how students are competitive inlearning. I think these models are reliable in identifying thestudents who are committed to learning. The best students pass examsdepending on how they were committed. In essence, I think this systemallows employers to determine the students and their suited roles inthe society. The 3 effects of grading presented by Kohn are alsodisputable. For instance, he states, “Grades tend to reducestudents’ interest in the learning itself” (Kohn 38). I thinkthat Kohn is misguided about the purpose of grading by assuming thatthere is a baseline grade that determines the interests of students.
Kohn also assumes that challenging tasks discourage students fromthinking effectively. Instead, I think that challenges boost theabilities of students and make them more fit to handle the realproblems in the field. He also makes another mistake by suggestingthat the students should either be accountable with grades or stopusing the grades in order to facilitate creativity. I think he shouldhave thought that these two attributes can be used together toprovide a better solution while applying the summative and formativeassessments. He discredits the vital attribute of competition thatprepares learners for the activities in the real world. Furthermore,Kohn does not consider that some students perform exemplary high inthe prevailing assessment models. They are happy to see their effortsrewarded by good grades. Instead, he presents an argument based onthose who fail but do not question their efforts in learning. Thehuman nature welcomes competition in schools and life. The gradesshould be seen as points of reference to categorize people and assignthem the appropriate duties depending on their abilities. It is asetup of making the available activities work for everyone in thebest way possible. For instance, I would not support a model wheresurgeons are selected from people who cannot comprehend how the humanbody is structured. The selection of a surgeon should rely on suchmerits as knowledge integration where a candidate understands thehuman body and its sensitivity in order to avoid any errors duringoperations.
By arguing against homework, Kohn subscribes to Cult of AcademicRelaxation that encourages laxity in learning. I do not think thatlaxity is the approach to encourage learning and relationshipsbetween educators and learners. Kohn states that grades, “spoilrelationships with students” (Kohn 39). I refute this argument byacknowledging that most good performers do not have bad relationshipswith their teachers. More so, the students willing to improve theirgrades improve their relationships with teachers in order to getassistance. Why would Kohn not argue that students would work hard toimprove their grades and enhance better relationships with teachers?I think that he is using extreme examples and logical fallacies todiscredit the grading system. Furthermore, since children are notable to make their decision, how would they tell that a subject isvital in their life without putting a gun in their heads as Kohndescribes? It is important to force students study because theycannot differentiate between the courses they will either take oravoid in future. It can only be a matter of selection once thelearners are recruited in all the subjects in order to identify thefitting one. For instance, I would not pursue a course in psychologyif I was not directed or forced to learn its basics as a child.
It is, therefore, arguable that Kohn’s ideas are debatable in thecurrent society. The society requires skilled and strong people whohave been selected to perform various duties. The students aretrained to handle tasks that suit them in the real life. The gradingsystem facilitates the education system in determining the mostsuited student for a specific task in the real world.
Kohn, Alfie. "From degrading to de-grading." Highschool magazine 6.5 (1999): 38-43.
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