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Why It's Time to Eliminate Class Schedules

Students would have the freedom to learn by working on real projects—and that might ease their obsession with grades.


I spend a lot of time in a philosophical tug-of-war with students and parents over what grades mean, why we give them, and how they should be interpreted. Parents want to know how their child is doing, students want to be left alone, and teachers just want everyone to think a bit more critically about the material. We end up with conflicting pressures, and a grading system that has overstepped its bounds with disastrous results for student psychology. Cheating, lying, extra credit for bringing in a box of Kleenex—it’s all the same disease.

As I stare out across the ocean of students I teach everyday, I wonder if their obsession with grades comes from an unexpected source: the way we schedule their classes. Perhaps clamoring for meaningless grades and inflated A’s is a side effect of the herd mentality present in schools and the schedules we use to create and maintain that mentality.

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Why Creative Teaching is Essential For the Information Age

Abandoning a narrow, one-size-fits all approach to teaching would help students develop the curiosity they need to become innovators of the future.


There’s a belief in this country that every student should graduate from high school with the same standard set of knowledge. This standard curriculum is lengthy, and states spend many years—and plenty of money—creating fancy bullet-pointed lists of the subjects students are expected to know.

Sadly, the list of facts and formulas students need to perform well on a standardized test is freakishly small in comparison. And, because education policymakers have narrowed teachers' focus to these few topics, it becomes tempting to resort to drill-and-kill teaching methods that cover information in a generic, surface-level way. Unsurprisingly, instead of fostering curiosity—which is much more important in the long term than rote memorization—this approach causes students to tune out.

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What's the Key to Ending the Math and Science Teacher Shortage?

The real problem isn't recruiting teachers. It's keeping them in the classroom.

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