January 15, 2012

Classroom of work vs. a classroom of learning

In "Students Don't 'Work' - They Learn," featured in Education Week in 1997, the inimitable Alfie Kohn discusses classrooms of work and classrooms of learning.
"In the former (work), the tasks come to be seen as - indeed, are often explicitly presented as - means to an end. What counts is the number of right answers, although even this may be seen as just a prerequisite to snagging a good grade. In fact, the grade may be a means to making the honor roll, which, in turn, may lead to special privileges or rewards provided at school or at home. With each additional inducement, the original act of learning is further devalued."

This remarkably simple notion lies at the foundation of the Results Only Learning Environment. 

Incredulous colleagues often inquire about some of the tenets of the ROLE. They wonder how it's possible to teach without daily worksheets, homework or tests. "How do you measure your students?" is a popular question.

Many are shocked when I tell them that I have no desire to measure my students. I just want them to learn, I explain, and if I place numbers and letters on their activities and projects, it's only a matter of time, before my classroom of learning becomes a classroom of work.