Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Pushed through/Grades equals Money

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Over the last five years, I have worked largely as an educator in college and university settings. Like my colleagues, I grumble about the consumer mentality of our students, of the unseemliness of edutainment that tends to be far more appreciated and the reluctance among students to take responsibility for their own learning and progress.

This fall, I had decided to take it as it was, not what it should or ought to be, and try to understand why my students were the way they were. Two key findings - if I can call it that - since they were really anecdotes during individual or group discussion (the latter of which, by the way, is more fruitful if grades are dangled) - is that a number of students feel pushed by the public school system while for another, a motivator factor to do anything is to consider grades like money (the greater, the better).

In general, such sentiments have struck me as alien, descriptive of a society or school board radically different than my own experience. But, increasingly I realize that, for all the salutary remarks about rising test scores and the highest percentage of students enrolled in postsecondary institutions in the world, the focus seems product rather than process and that there are casualties. Perhaps it's akin to the GDP or the adulation of economic growth: higher numbers, but not without disruption, trauma, victims.

Now, I'm not implying my students have been failed by our education system. Rather our yardsticks of success can only measure readily quantifiable skills. So much of learning and knowledge is not quantifiable. For example, curiosity. How would you measure that? Surely, that must be a desirable "output"?
Certainly as an educator it is one of those things that I find inspiring, encouraging me to not fully despair.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Nitin Deckha

Nitin Deckha is the author of Shopping for Sabzi (TSAR Publications, 2008) and a contributor to Once Upon a Time in Bollywood (TSAR Publications, 2007) and several other publications.

Go to Nitin Deckha ’s Author Page