Two Things: Grades & Reflection

This week I returned to being a student, beginning my Masters of Education at Flinders University. So far, it has been a great experience. There are a number of points I have been reflecting on following my first class and here are some of my thoughts.

Firstly, I was reminded of the pressure we inadvertently place on our students in the learning process by grading their work. On hearing about the assignments that need to be completed for the course, my mind immediately went to the grades I hope to achieve. I realised this is often what students experience in the classroom. While achieving good grades is not a bad thing, it is not the primary motivation I want my students to have when learning. First and foremost I want students to be intrinsically motivated by the learning process itself, not the grade they achieve at the end of it. I can’t escape grades at present; however I aim to provide authentic learning opportunities that engage students, opening them up to the wonder of learning.

A second thing I was reminded of was the importance of reflection in the learning process. My class were asked to read the poem “The Fire” by Judy Brown. The poem outlines what is needed to build a fire and it is a fantastic metaphor for what is required for transformative learning. It is easy to be busy, doing and trying many new things; however if we (both educators and students) do not find time to reflect on what is being learnt the learning will be limited. The poem highlights the need for space to enable the flame to burn. If there are too many logs on the fire, leaving no space, the fire will suffocate and be unable to serve it’s purpose. Similarly, if we attempt to do too many things leaving no ‘space’ in our lives then our learning will suffocate.