Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Response to Professor X

Lorraine Berry wrote an eloquent response to Professor X's assertion that the feminization of college campuses had led to grade inflation. She concludes with a very student-centered teaching philosophy:

The generalization that I am willing to make, after 11 years before students and among colleagues, is that grade inflation is indeed the result of changing one's relationship to one's students. I don't stand in front of my classroom as the all-knowing prof. I offer to them a system, built upon the idea that once upon a time, I didn't know how to do these things, either. It's therefore my job to show them, rather than tell them, how it's done. It's turning, through good teaching, D's into C's and B's, C's into B's and A's, and students into writers. Sometimes, you start with an F.

She sees grades as the results of a relationship built between the instructor and the student, not as some final word on student ability. She builds that relationship in her writing classes by allowing multiple revisions, a strategy that I also use in my writing classes. She does this because, as she states, "My job was, in fact, to take them from not knowing to knowing." Her job is not to stamp students' papers with a letter, but to teach them, and a grade is a tool in that process.

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