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Grades in fourth grade?
As many of you may have heard, the debate about grades in fourth grade has been wilder lately. Is it good or bad for our ten year olds to live with the stress of grades? Don’t you think kids in their age should be studying peacefully instead of worrying about thei grades?
Sure, real life will be very stressful but do they really need to feel that in their age?
Many who oppose me would probably say: “If they get grades in a younger age they will be more prepared for the higher grades.”
It may be true but according to my personal experience, the kids´ focus will be targeted to the character rather than the learning. If you know “I need to learn this and this to get an A”, for example, most kids would probably only do the stuff they need to do to get an A (or C or E). T he “thirst” for learning new things kids have in their age may dissappear. They will turn out to be good-grade-spitting-robots and have no special knowlege beside the stuff they need to get the A or C they want. It may also turn out to that the kids forget the information they learned in in the last minute as soon as the essay or test is finnished and thereby haven´t learnt a thing.
In the text "Betygshetsen lönar sig inte för någon" the authors, Sara and Simon, wrote: "Problemet är att ett alltför stort fokus på betyg har haft konsekvensen att det faktiska lärandet ofrivilligt, får vi hoppas, lagts åt sidan". Translated: "The problem is that a too big focus on the grades have the consequences that the actual learning unwillingly, we hope, has been put aside". The authors thereby confirm my opinion I presented above.
In my discussions on the topic I’ve heard the argument “but many of the Asian countries start with grades in about that age and they have really good results”.
I personally think that this information is irrelevant in this discussion. If you think of how liberal the Swedish educational system has become the past years, the strict structure of the Asian system may actually even turn out to make the situation worse because of the unfamiliar system.
Also: Think of our teachers! If they have to write more grades they will have less time to comunicate with their pupils. This time could’ve been spend to discuss the pupils’ development face-to-face, which I think would be even more effective to the pupil and his/her parents understanding.
I know that Sweden doesn’t have the gratest result in the PISA-tests, but the problem isn’t when the pupils get their first character on a paper, it’s the low standard of the teaching. The low salaries, the bad working environment and poor career opportunities scares bright young students aways that could have become perfect teachers.
If you want better results bet on the teachers, their payment and the schools rather than the grades. A school with bad teachers will never get engaged pupils and thereby no higher grades.
(Note: I'm writing about the Swedish schoolsystem)