A Tip of the Hat to Duke’s, Cathy Davidson

Whose lunatic idea was it to throw National Teacher Day in May, when finals are looming and we’re more stressed out than Kanye when he pulled the mic from T-Swift!?

I mean seriously, I just cannot devote any of my (precious) time to appreciating teachers today. Sorry. Nope. Not gonna happen. Not when I’m  running on little to no sleep, am elbow-deep in research papers, and my blood caffeine content is higher than my average BAC on mug night. We stretch ourselves so thin trying to be perfect for teachers, studying so we can get an A, then promptly forgetting all the material. We really make the most of our education, don’t we!?

Nope. But at least there’s one professor, at one school, that knows what’s up.

According to Duke University’s Cathy Davidson, “I can’t think of a more meaningless, superficial, cynical way to evaluate learning than by assigning a grade. It turns learning into a crass competition: how do I snag the highest grade for the least amount of work? How do I give the prof what she wants so I can get the A that I need for med school? That’s the opposite of learning and curiosity, the opposite of everything I believe as a teacher, and is, quite frankly, a waste of my time and the students’ time.”

You go girl…er…woman!

Davidson, clearly fed up with the current college grading process, is turning grading over to the students. In doing so, she’s found that the students feel more motivated to complete the work, which is reviewed, discussed and critiqued by two student discussion leaders at each class meeting. Her process is clear: you do the work, you get the grade. Not happy with your work? You can go back revise, and- you guessed it- get the grade. Furthermore, students can be more of themselves in their writing, rather than the thesaurus-happy intellectuals they pretend to be when trying to please other professors.

And it’s working! Students are actually learning, as opposed to half-assing assignments in order to get a better grade.

Davidson’s method turns learning from a dictatorship to a democracy, letting students have a say in their classroom experience and changing the dynamic between teacher and student, and that’s something we can all appreciate.

Now I just wish my professors, for whom I haven’t slept in 3 days, would take the hint…

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