Grading is a Scam (and Motivation is a Myth) | A Professor Explains

this is maria she had always been a curious girl asking her parents questions about everything around her when she got to school she did the same thing with her teachers but she found that they didn't like it very much when she asked too many questions other students who were quiet got gold stars and little tickets they could turn in at the end of the week for a toy or a piece of candy but maria didn't get any of those and she felt left out when the other kids would play with their prizes so she learned to be quiet she stopped asking questions she kept her eyes focused on her work she was a good student and eventually she got her gold star she kept this up throughout her school years and she learned that she could get more than just gold stars and candy in exchange for her silence if she got an a on a test her parents would give her ten dollars if she got straight a's all year they'd give her a hundred if she could get a 4.0 gpa for her whole high school career the local college would give her thousands what was that worth to maria a girl who had been told over and over by her parents and teachers and coaches that a college education was what you really needed to get out of your hometown get a job and really make it well she did what it took to get those grades she studied and did her homework of course but she also had to be smart about things she had to prioritize she quit the band during her sophomore year so she could fit another ap class into her schedule she chose the projects that looked the easiest because she couldn't risk screwing up and jeopardizing her grades she worried herself sick literally sick before every exam because every exam every project every paper every quiz everything was make or break because maria worked so hard on her grades they started to define her her entire sense of self-worth was based on her gpa the a's were nice of course but they felt unearned after all she'd crammed for them she didn't feel like she had actually learned anything and anything lower than an a was a sign of personal failure and worthlessness that represented a hole nearly impossible to climb out of everything was a calculation everything was a decision everything was based on what is my teacher looking for what is the right answer and what is the path of least resistance that will get me there for maria the purpose of school was to figure out what your teacher wanted and then give that to them teachers held grades over students heads like pinatas or guillotines give the teacher what they want tell them what they want to hear turn your work in on time sit down and be quiet or else that little girl who had asked all those questions who had approached life with curiosity and passion was gone in her place was an anxious teenager who saw school as a barrier to her future or just a means to an end and who had missed all of the learning that was supposed to be happening there school it seems had gotten in the way of her education no matter how many years you've been out of the education system or heaven forbid you're still in it you probably have a lot of feelings about school regardless of whether you were a good student or a bad student it seems like we all have a lot of education related baggage so why is that why is it that we all have this kind of a sense that there's something wrong with our schools why does it seem like there's always complaints about what they're teaching kids these days and why even after decades of education research and years of reform after reform do we still seem to be struggling what's funny is i haven't even said what country i'm talking about i mean i'm obviously talking about the us because i'm from the u.s and if there's one thing you can always count on an american to do it's to assume they're the center of attention but seriously other than a few outliers who seem to have a good handle on things a lot of nations are struggling with education by and large we don't really know what to do about our schools the one good thing to come out of this universal is there's a lot of research out there about what to do about this problem now there's a lot of fluff a lot of folks who just want to go back to the good old days when you could beat kids knuckles with rulers but there's also some actually useful stuff in my quest to become the greatest english professor to walk the earth i dove into this research and discovered a lot of surprising and groundbreaking and potentially paradigm-shifting ideas about education and then there was this one book one book that brought together dozens and dozens of studies done over decades that disrupted assumptions not just about schooling but about everything see our theories about the way students learn and about how teachers should teach are based on a few basic assumptions and those assumptions are also the basis of how we run businesses how we expect employees to act how we interact with each other and how we raise our kids so if these assumptions could be proven faulty if it turns out that what we think we know about how humans learn and behave about human nature itself is wrong then that means that our entire society is built on a lie or at least a mistake but that's worth looking into so let's explore this rabbit hole of human nature from why teachers give tests to the entire framework of society and see what we can find without further ado let's get started before we can dive into dissecting grades we should probably figure out why they exist in the first place so what's the point of grades well around 100 years ago our modern conception of grading came about because teachers wanted a uniform and consistent way of measuring student learning they wanted to be able to make it crystal clear what kinds of learning a student had reached and what kinds of learning they still needed to work on and this sounds great right except the first widespread attempt to standardize grades ended up with bell curve and if any of you have been in a class that grades on a curve with a professor who says only 10 of you can get a's and the average grade is going to be a c then you know why this isn't a great idea now we'll talk about exactly why it's a bad idea a little bit later on in the video but suffice it to say it's not good luckily most teachers soon realized that grading on a curve wasn't a great way to do things so they moved to grading students individually instead of as compared to their classmates but they still used these individual grades to rank their students after all if grades are a clear and objective measurement of how much a student knows or what level of mastery they have then it makes sense to figure out who knows the most stuff right because then you can decide who should go on to college and who should just work in a factory for the rest of their life teachers also use grades as a communication tool grades communicate to parents and students about how students are doing in a certain class or how well they've grasped a certain concept grades measure how much you've learned and that's an important measurement to have if the goal of school is to learn things then it's good to know how close you actually are to that goal and from this grades also work as a motivator if you don't want to get a bad grade on your test then you're motivated to study for it if you get cash from your parents or free movie tickets from your school for being on the honor roll then you're motivated to do all your work and really commit to learning if you want to get an a and a class you're motivated to do whatever the teacher tells you to do death and if you really want to get an a then you'll do whatever it takes you'll do anything anything and that's why teachers give grades so teachers and administrators and even parents to some extent think that grades are these really helpful tools that measure our learning communicate that measurement to us and then work to motivate us to do the stuff we need to do to succeed in school but as i'm sure that most of us can attest it doesn't really feel that way to students i mean how well do grades actually meaningfully measure our learning imagine you've written a paper and when you get it back you see that it says a minus at the top what does this communicate to you does it mean that you have successfully learned how to write a paper if you received a c minus does that mean you didn't successfully learn how to write a paper or does it mean that you can do some things well like organization or writing thesis statements but you struggle with other things like topic sentences or comma splices or maybe it means you wrote a perfect paper but you just turned it in a few days late this is even the case for more objective subjects like math if you've taken an algebra test and you see you have a b plus what does that mean does it mean you know all the concepts but just made a couple arithmetic errors does it mean you understand most of the concepts but it's just one type of question that really throws you off does it mean you actually understand everything but you didn't eat breakfast that morning or you were distracted during the test because you had a headache or you didn't get enough sleep last night because you had to stay up late to work on that english paper and even if you had comments on your tests explaining exactly what you did well and what you needed to improve on research shows that if a paper has a comment and a grade most students just skip the comments and focus only on the grade when something is graded feedback is ignored and even if we knew what grades meant there's still a difference between what different instructors think constitutes a level work i mean you know which teachers are the easy graders at your school right so clearly grades are not a great measurement of our learning and they do even worse at communicating this supposed learning to us and it wouldn't really matter if grades were this inaccurate if they were just a simple number that only you and your teacher and maybe your parents ever saw if they were just this communication device but they aren't for our entire academic careers we're told over and over and over again how important grades are they dictate which colleges we get into what kinds of scholarships we get if any and which companies will hire us and as students we are all too aware of this so we do everything we can to keep that gpa up we take classes from the easy graders we choose the easier topics for our projects we avoid challenges even though challenges are what actually promotes learning we avoid risk because failure even if failure just means getting a b is really hard to recover from we're told that we need to learn from our mistakes but how can we risk making mistakes when everything is on the line we're told failure is good it's a learning experience but we're punished for it we make ourselves literally sick with anxiety because our entire futures are dependent on our grades if grades don't actually evaluate and communicate our learning in a consistent and useful way then we're doing all of this just to get an arbitrary number that doesn't really measure anything real so what about motivation well grades certainly feel like motivators like i explained earlier we're willing to do pretty much anything for a good grade and bad grades are terrifying so we'll do pretty much anything to avoid them to most students grades don't feel so much like achievements of how much we've grown and learned and accomplished good grades feel like carrots on sticks dangled in front of us by teachers and bad grades feel like guns pointed at our heads until we do our work quickly and quietly and behave ourselves and sit down and shut up even if grades did measure learning the motivation they provide the carrot on the stick and the gun to our heads wouldn't actually increase our learning in fact grades actually hinder learning because as it turns out everything we think we know about motivation is wrong okay so let's take a step back what do we think we know about motivation well just take a look at any weight loss program or pay on commission job if people are given an incentive to do something a sum of money for losing a certain amount of weight or a bonus for selling a particular number of products they will be more likely to do that thing so we think this is based on the psychological theory of behaviorism behaviorists see people as collections of behaviors and we decide which behaviors to engage in based on what will grant us the greatest rewards and we avoid behaviors that would grant us punishment think of it as do this get that now we as a culture have internalized this do this get that idea and we've applied it to pretty much everything if people are good and smart and innovative they will succeed if they fail it's because they must have done something wrong the harder you work the more you get that's why doctors and lawyers and other people who we see as doing hard work that they've invested a lot of time and energy into are seen as more deserving of higher pay we see this as the natural way of things intuitively it makes sense do this get that but what happens when the this and the that are being determined by someone else what happens when the idea of rewarding behaviors turns into motivating behaviors when you use rewards to coerce behaviors well this is exactly what's happening in our schools if we think of do this get that as a transaction then our schools have become businesses where students spend their obedience currency to purchase grades and then those grades turn into currency down the road that they can then use to purchase college admission and scholarships and jobs we're telling students do this study hard come to class on time turn things in on time sit down be quiet and you'll get that an a a scholarship a job money happiness we think that motivating a behavior causes people to continue doing that behavior in the long term too teachers include attendance and participation in their grade calculations because they want us to keep coming to class and participating managers give hard workers bonuses because they want them to keep working hard parents give their children an allowance for doing chores because they want them to keep helping out around the house and developing a good work ethic and if we agree with the foundations of behaviorism then all these things are right rewarding behavior helps you get more of that behavior right well if you've seen the title of this video then you know what my conclusion is you know what's coming so let's just get into it shall we [Music] all right so why is motivation a myth well motivation itself isn't a myth motivation exists but the idea that we can extrinsically motivate people into becoming better smarter harder working people is a myth we have this belief that rewarding people for performing a behavior means they will perform that behavior more and better if you reward people for doing a thing they will keep doing that thing and they will do that thing to the best of their ability right well decades of research suggests otherwise study after study after study shows that if you reward someone for performing a task regardless of the kind of task the kind of reward and the age or gender of the person they do worse trying to get people to quit smoking prize recipients were lighting up again more often than those in the control group who had no reward and subjects who had been promised prizes were twice as likely to lie about having quit trying to get people to solve a puzzle those who were working for the financial incentive took nearly 50 percent longer to solve the problem memorizing words children who received candy or the promise of candy got fewer right writing newspaper headlines the performance of the students who were paid stopped improving those who received no money kept getting better teaching other students students who were promised free movie tickets for successfully teaching others to play a new game got frustrated more easily took longer to communicate ideas and ended up with pupils who didn't understand the game as well as those who had learned from tutors who weren't promised anything even with taking iq tests third graders who were told they would get a toy didn't do as well as those who expected nothing and the same is true of standardized tests where children who are extrinsically motivated that is concerned about things like rewards and approval use less sophisticated learning strategies and score lower than children who are interested in learning for its own sake participants who are rewarded consistently make more mistakes are less creative perform their tasks slower and are more irritable even if the rewards come after the task as a surprise any subsequent tasks that the participants perform are done worse than that initial time when they didn't know they were going to be rewarded even just thinking about rewards makes us less creative and create lower quality work and worst of all if we are rewarded for something we are already intrinsically motivated to do something we enjoy the reward actually decreases our intrinsic motivation in other words what rewards do and what they do with devastating effectiveness is smother people's enthusiasm for activities they might otherwise enjoy at the end of the day rewards don't motivate people to do more better work rewards make us do the same amount of work or less that is lower quality and makes us lose interest in that work over time rewards don't work but why well there's a few reasons one is that when we associate a behavior with a reward instead of making that behavior seem more attractive it actually devalues that behavior if someone has to give you something extra to do a task that must mean the task itself has no inherent value right i mean imagine someone gave you a sandwich and then told you they'd pay you five dollars to eat it you'd be pretty skeptical right you'd think there was something wrong with that sandwich that there was some reason you wouldn't choose to eat it unless you were paid for it this is why grading doesn't work because in theory we want our students to see learning as an inherently good thing we want them to be curious and see the value in their education but then we tell them oh well i'll give you this grade for doing this work so then they focus on the grade not the learning the learning becomes less valuable in itself it's just a means to an end when we are extrinsically motivated to do a task we don't actually care about the task itself anymore all we care about is that reward and so why would we spend more time and energy working on something if all we need to do is the bare minimum in order to get the reward why would we ever try any harder than we need to why would we ever take risks screwing up would mean we wouldn't get anything so why not just play it safe this is why rewards make us less creative creativity requires risk-taking creativity is about trying new things and when something is new it's unknown there's a possibility it could fail when we're focused on getting rewards we'll do anything to make sure we get that reward including minimizing risk and thus minimizing creativity once a behavior loses its inherent value we require rewards to even have any interest in doing it anymore and this is why rewards don't work in the long term if you reward someone for something they're only going to do that thing as long as they're rewarded for it so if you want a behavior to continue in the long term you have to keep increasing the rewards because if the only reason people are doing something is because of the reward then the moment you take away the reward they have no reason to keep doing it now i think that this is a good time to point out that i'm not talking about just being paid to do work i'm talking about things like bonuses commission pay and other workplace rewards the thing about money that differentiates it from things like grades is that we need it to survive and just getting to live isn't a reward now that's a whole other issue for a whole other video but suffice it to say for the time being we require money to live in this world but as it relates to motivation more money doesn't necessarily equal more motivation to work being paid more is diminishing returns think of it like vitamins so our body needs a certain amount of vitamins to survive we have to meet that minimum or our body will shut down and we really should get more than that minimum it's technically all we need but in order to be healthy we need a lot more that being said we also have a maximum that our body can even process anything more than that maximum just gets flushed out like literally you pee it out it's the same with money we will do a job for pay because we need some amount of money to live now some jobs don't pay enough to live and those are bad and shouldn't exist foods that don't contribute very many vitamins or minerals are junk foods jobs that don't give you enough money to live are junk jobs but eating healthy foods and then downing a whole bunch of multivitamins you're just going to pee out all the extra vitamins and if you hate your job getting a bonus that takes your pay from 100k to 120k isn't necessarily going to make that big of a difference you're still going to hate your job more money doesn't necessarily equal more motivation you can be paid too little to want to do a job but there's no maximum sum that will suddenly make you enjoy a job you hate the final problem with extrinsic motivation is that it's about control i mean it's even in the name extrinsic there's some external force that is coercing you into doing something behaviorism as a whole concept is about control it's about giving someone something for performing a certain behavior in the hopes that they will continue doing that behavior as we've seen rewards don't actually produce better work what they produce is obedience we're given a's and gold stars for turning in our work on time for listening to the teacher for doing things that the standardized tests test for for sitting down and shutting up grades are the school system's way of controlling the behavior of its students but it's not just grades either it's everything it's how we're taught in schools but it's also how we raise our kids and how we're treated at our jobs and how we stop smoking or motivate ourselves to exercise it's everywhere and this is part of the reason why rewards have stuck around for so long we as a culture are addicted to them because everything about our society is built on them we see students who won't do work unless they're graded for it we see people who won't go the extra mile or be more creative with their work and we think oh people are just lazy but the problem isn't the people it's how they're treated the problem is rewards okay so if rewards are so bad what do we do instead well it really depends on what your goal is if what you want is to create an army of obedient yes men who don't think creatively and just do what they're told then sure you can keep doing things the same way you're doing them but if you want curious motivated critical thinkers the solution isn't to give them more rewards the solution isn't for us to do anything because if we see it as we need to do something to get them to behave a certain way then we're still thinking about it all wrong nothing that we do externally will work the solution has to come from inside not extrinsic motivation but intrinsic motivation so i keep bringing up this idea that our society believes people are lazy and people won't do anything unless they're motivated to but the thing is people aren't inherently lazy people don't want to just do nothing and if you think well i wouldn't do work if i weren't paid think about all the things you do do that you don't get paid for think about your hobbies and the hard work that you do on a daily basis that you don't get a paycheck from and if you think well that's different i do that because i enjoy it because it's helpful because it's necessary shouldn't you see your work as enjoyable helpful and necessary too imagine how much happier you would be if your job both paid you enough to live and gave you that intrinsic motivation that you crave as a human being just some food for thought as i mentioned earlier the use of rewards has kind of ruined everything rewards make us less interested in doing whatever it is that we are rewarded for and if we've been rewarded for everything because our whole society is built on rewards then yeah of course we're not going to be interested in doing things but it's not because we're inherently uninterested it's because rewards have ruined things for us human nature outside of rewards is to be curious to figure out the world to be creative and feel productive to help the people around us in a vacuum those are the behaviors we are drawn toward so how do we get people to do those things in real life well whenever the idea of removing rewards whether it's grades or different parenting methods comes up people are quick to say well what so we just do nothing we just let them run wild and do whatever they want and this is a misunderstanding that comes from the assumption that we have only two options we punish people or we reward people that's it so we struggle to think outside that binary but really punishments and rewards are basically the same thing they're both manipulative tactics that work from the assumptions of behaviorism so the choice is actually between extrinsic motivators punishments and rewards and intrinsic motivators and if extrinsic motivation is about control then intrinsic motivation its opposite is about freedom our schools are not set up for freedom public schools in the u.s were built to be funnels to the workplace they were built to be little factories that pumped out little obedient workers that could help us defeat communism and sure that's one theory of education but today i'm sure most of us are more interested in having schools that help our children grow into responsible creative problem-solving critical thinkers who also know how to read and write and do math and stuff but the way that our schools are set up isn't actually conducive to that we're still using that old factory model a model that's based on old outdated theories about how learning works most of us think of learning as being like pouring a jug of water into a bowl the student's heads are the balls the education is the water and the teacher is the jug but that's not actually how it works knowledge isn't some external objective thing it's constructed knowledge and learning are things that we create together and i know that this all sounds kind of heady and abstract but basically in order for us to deeply understand something we need to discover it for ourselves and just being told facts doesn't really count as discovery instead we need to be gently prompted to ask questions guided through finding our own solutions offered feedback helped through our inevitable mistakes and supported when we finally succeed so what does this mean on a practical level like what does this actually look like in a classroom well it means that the teacher isn't just standing at the front with all eyes on them and lecturing at half a week teenagers for 50 minutes at a time it means we need to cultivate three things collaboration content and choice we need our learning to be collaborative we need students to work together not be in competition with one another have them solve problems together talk to each other about what they're learning help each other through their struggles competition just breeds more of that i'll do anything to succeed mindset that results in toxic behaviors and it causes students to go back to focusing on rewards on what do i get if i'm the best this is why grading on a curve doesn't work it just brings rewards back into the picture working collaboratively is how most of us work in our day to day lives most of us aren't working all by ourselves in a vacuum that's just not how the world works so we have to learn to work together we also need to make the content engaging one of the easiest ways to do this is to make sure that whatever you're teaching can somehow be connected to the student's lives have them practice rhetorical skills by making memes or have them engage with history by making modernized versions of past political campaigns have them learn area and volume by making and measuring structures and minecraft the only way that students will give a [ __ ] about what they're learning is if they have a reason to give a [ __ ] make your content exciting engaging relevant and contextualized make it connect to the real lives of your real life real human students and yeah it's hard it means that you can't just lecture and then give a multiple choice test but that's what teaching is about it's about figuring out what your students need in order to be able to learn and then doing that and finally choice so this is the scary one because it means giving students real choice real independence real power in the classroom it means letting students decide for themselves what they want to get out of their education what they want to learn how they want to learn how they want to be assessed it means not always having every single assignment planned out and ready to go because students need to have input into the assignments they need to be able to say what if we made a video instead of writing an essay and then you ask them to defend their position ask them about how that will help them meet their learning goals and what kind of things the video would need to have to be a success and then if they can do that you let them do it even if it wasn't what you had planned and yes this means that the teacher loses some control of the classroom but it means that students gain independence freedom choice and space to be curious and creative it gives them a chance to be humans and what is school if not practice in being human so before i move on i want to address several of the arguments that i can already hear you shouting at the screen there are lots of valid questions about the pragmatics of actually implementing this kind of thing in our classrooms so i want to cover them as best as i can here if you're not an educator and you don't really care about the nitty-gritty of getting rid of grades go ahead and skip to the timestamp on screen or here probably so that you can skip this section for the rest of us let's go but zoe if i don't grade attendance then my students won't come to class that means that your class isn't interesting or engaging enough your job as a teacher is to make your class worth coming to and teachers who have removed attendance grades say that there has been little if any effect on student attendance and you should think about why you want to reward your students for coming to class in the first place if attendance is graded doesn't that mean your students are rewarded for coming in when they're sick but zoe how will students and their parents know how well they're doing in a class like i said earlier it's not about just getting rid of grades and then doing everything else the same that would never work what you need to do is replace grades with other actually valuable feedback write comments have meetings give substantial feedback on assignments talk to your students about which concepts they've done well with and which ones they've struggled with talk to them write to them have conversations with them yes it's harder and it takes more time but that is what will actually help your students learn but zoe if i don't give my high schoolers grades then they won't get accepted to college not true there are plenty of schools that don't grade their students that also have great college acceptance rates also think about what you would be doing for your students instead what means more to a college a list of letters or an actual letter written by the student's teacher or counselor that says hey we don't grade at our school so let's tell you about this student this is what this student did while at our school here's the major projects they work on here's what they excelled at here's who they are as a human that information is way more valuable than a handful of a's and b's but zoe isn't this system more prone to teacher bias no not if it is done well remember we need to be giving our students freedom and control if they decide what their learning goals are and they decide how to get there and you just help them get there then you're just a guide but zoe are you saying you'd be comfortable if your brain surgeon went to a gradeless school most major med schools do pass fail systems and for those that don't data shows that when you compare doctors who got high grades and doctors who got lower grades in actual practice they do the same quality of work which also suggests that grades are like meaningless if they don't actually indicate practice outside of school but zoe how will we determine students mastery of material there are lots of ways but all of them come down to giving students control of their learning one popular option is contract grading where you and the student come up with a contract for grades together either with individual students or together as a class you decide like okay this is what a work looks like and this is what b work looks like and so on and then students can decide for themselves which level they want to strive for if a student knows they have other classes that are a higher priority they can do b level work as long as they do what the contract says they need to do you'll give them a b at the end of the semester another option is to let students make their own rubrics they decide what they think they should accomplish as part of a particular assignment or project and if they do that then they pass ultimately just let your students be a part of the assignment building process if you want them to own their learning then let them own it but zoe won't my students just give themselves a's so this is something that could happen it's not very likely most students are honest with themselves and that they're teachers if anything they're more likely to deflate their grades to give themselves lower grades than you think they should get but this is one case where you as the teacher can step in and be the final arbiter but even if you do change their grade you need to tell them why because at the end of the day they need to understand what they did poorly what they still have to learn and what they've mastered and they can only figure that out through a conversation now clearly schools are not the only problem here like i said earlier this isn't just a video about grades it's a video about the entire concept of rewards and motivation and nearly everything in our society is set up to function within this reward based system so there's a lot of work to be done our workplaces are facing the same issues as our schools as i was writing this script there was a meme going around of a business that complained that nobody wants to work and apparently it was more than a meme it was like a real phenomenon at businesses across the nation and the thing is people don't want to work at these businesses because a they aren't paid enough to live and b they aren't intrinsically motivated to work there and those are kind of like the two prerequisites to having happy workers who want to come to work so you need to pay people a living wage and then focus on those same three things that i mentioned before collaboration content and choice let workers work together let them help each other and if you're the manager that includes you you better work together and be an equal with your employees let people do work that actually makes a difference let them do work they enjoy and let them have choices in how they complete their job let them choose their hours let them have a say in decisions being made in the office or in policy changes and you might say well what about the jobs that suck if people are given total freedom then no one would want to do those shitty jobs unless they were rewarded for it or forced to do it well one sociologist studying a group of garbage collectors in san francisco discovered that most of them were quite satisfied with their work because of the way it and the company was organized relationships among the men were highlighted tasks and routes were varied enough to break the monotony of the works routine and the company was set up as a cooperative meaning that each worker owned a share of the business and felt a pride of ownership clearly it is premature to assume that certain categories of work are inherently distasteful and will be pursued only for extrinsic reasons okay you might say but what about the jobs that really suck like working in fast food or being an amazon delivery driver this section continues the radical response to this problem is to question the necessity of making people do wretched work in the first place many people are forced to choose between working at such jobs and not working at all a choice framed not by life but by our economic system these people are expected to be grateful that any employment is available regardless of the psychic and physical toll of doing such work what it comes down to is this we who benefit from someone else's mind numbing labor we who defrost our frozen dinners or we who order our amazon packages with one day shipping without ever considering what life is like for those invisible others who spend eight grueling repetitive hours a day preparing them are quick to say such work must be done from one perspective this reflects another facet of the sharp division between the haves and the have-nots the latter are left with the work that lacks interest from another perspective it could be said that what we collectively gain as consumers we lose as producers our shelves are full of goods while our lives are empty of meaningful work the central point though is that in any responsible discussion of intrinsic motivation and especially of the role played by the content of tasks we must remind ourselves of the social context if work is to be improved it must first be made bearable for those who endure injuries of body mind and spirit for our convenience does that answer your question ultimately what it comes down to is this grades do not do what we think they do they don't accurately measure and communicate learning and they don't motivate students grades like all rewards actually demotivate students and hinder the learning process if you want your students to engage with material if you want them to grow to be curious and critical thinkers then you have to get rid of grades you have to communicate with your students you have to relinquish your control you have to give your students freedom and trust them with it you are not their master their controller their interrogator holding a gun to their head unless they do what you want you are their guide until we as a society understand the dangers of rewards on a wider level things are not going to change i framed this video around the issues of grading not just because i'm a teacher but because it's one of those things that we can change on a grassroots level teachers can start this movement and we must if we want to end up with a more equitable society full of critical thinkers and curious motivated passionate people but we also need to work towards these goals in other areas workers need to be given more freedom more power more choice let workers choose their hours let them be creative with how they solve problems and for the love of god pay them a livable wage like i said earlier the whole more pay doesn't equal more motivation thing only applies when people are making enough money to live in the first place in this country we say we care a lot about democracy but then if we look at our schools and our workplaces that democracy is non-existent in our schools and our workplaces we work under a system of ultimate unquestionable control and it's making us miserable and less creative and it's making us lose all the joy and motivation from our lives this is unsustainable and you might say that what i'm suggesting feels like it goes against the foundations of our society and yeah it kinda does but that's because the foundations of our society are bad science bad science that dehumanizes and demeans and demotivates everyone i want things to change because i want things to be better and to quote alfie cohn again if we are committed to making things better we may find ourselves calling into question our most fundamental and least examined institutions in the end if there is one concept that i want you to take from this video it's that human nature isn't laziness or selfishness that is a lie that has been perpetuated by our constant use of rewards rewards breed laziness and selfishness if we get rid of the rewards we will start to see what we're truly capable of we will be free to be curious free to pursue our passions free to do the work that needs to be done because we care about our society humans are social we care about each other we want to help each other and create things and grow and learn the world has just convinced us otherwise thank you all for sticking around to the end of the video this one was a big one uh so if you liked it be sure to like and comment and subscribe and ring the bell and do all the youtube stuff um you know what to do you've been here before if you have any educators in your life feel free to share this with them there is a small but growing movement of teachers who are going gradeless so anything that helps us spread the good word is much appreciated and if you are an educator who wants to learn more my two recommendations if i can grab them my two recommendations are punished by rewards by alfie cohn which is all about right why rewards don't work and ungrading why rating students undermines learning and what to do instead which is a collection of accounts from real teachers from all levels and all subjects about how they have gone gradeless in their classrooms if you are watching this live hi folks uh right after this video is over i'm going to be heading over to twitch to do a live stream where we're gonna hang out and chat and i'll play some baldur's gate so head over there after this premiere is over and if you are not watching live come follow me on twitch i'm getting into streaming and it's so much fun i do writing and q and a's and i play games and we just have a great time together anyway i do have a big announcement we have merch and as i'm sure you may have noticed my hoodie has my little sign off on it um along with a little orange kitty cat so um this comes in a couple of styles and they're all pretty simple they don't like shout my channel name or whatever they're just little positive messages with my signature orange cat who is now pouting because i dragged him in here if you like the look of these then you can go over to to check them out um i'll have a link in the description for that as well and i've done my best to keep the markup as low as possible because this isn't about like making a bunch of money or building a brand or whatever like it's just a creative outlet and a way to spread my positive little message and also get my cats on shirts so like i said that is and let me know what you think i also want to give a huge thank you to my patrons whose names you should should see scrolling here next to me over here um they are the only reason that i can afford to do the things i do and buy all the books that i use for these videos and continue to feed my pets and an especially big thank you to my eldritch abominations zauber sigua ryan a tasty snack and conrad fox and also to my new ish necromancer patron dingus who has been very patiently awaiting their poem so for you dingus here is wednesday 5 30 p.m circa 2013.

do not even make noise over there do not even that's not part of the poem do you remember how our calculus teacher smelled like cigarettes and bourbon and old cologne do you remember the last time we walked through our high school on the hill after hours and empty it always felt like a dream shadows falling along angles never before seen by student eyes stray teachers like stray animals and the halls all to ourselves do you remember the quietness between the squeaks of our sneakers that left five second footprints on the floor and if we went back would we find it or like the footprints is it gone if you enjoyed that and would like to have your own poems written for you or if you want to join our discord server or just come hang out with a bunch of cool cats not actual cats we're the cool cats come join us on patreon which is linked in the description it's been a long day and until next time stay safe stay warm and i will see y'all again soon i hope bye folks dez are you really not gonna come say hi were you really just gonna be so grumpy the whole time i know i know the people want to see you you're like the mascot now they love you yeah i don't know why you're being such a grump yeah what oh you want to eat the little strings don't you all right all right i think it's time to go yeah yeah it's time to go go on go on

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