Degrading and De-grading

In the Independent Learner classroom everyone gets an ‘A’.  Not because they are passed out easily, but because a student will not progress to a new level without mastering the previous.  Report cards are a relatively new phenomena in education, making its debut in the late 1890’s.  It is a component of the modern factory school.  Prior to the advent of report cards, mastery was the objective, not grades.

An interesting observation about report cards is that before they came into use it was the teacher that was being graded, and the grade he received was the quality of his graduates. If he graduated students (probably from the sixth grade) who proved to be poorly educated, the teacher was blamed and he would be out of business before long.

Not only were there no letter grades, there were also no grade levels.  You were not in the third grade, you were simply in Mr. Jones’ class.  So, in the Independent Learner School when your child is asked about what grade they are in, the response is, “I am half way through the fourth level of math, I am almost in the sixth level of history”,  and so forth.  Forcing children through the curriculum by grades, according to their age, not mastery, is again, a modern approach to education and not a very beneficial one.


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