About what school marks mean - and don't mean:
...about realising more of life's potential...

"Living while the time passes"

a quickly-made English summary of

Jan Helander's book

Att leva medan tiden går

Natur & Kultur, Stockholm, 1996


Jan Helander is a gerontologist and is dealing with the process of "aging": but since aging starts from the moment of fertilisation, it covers the same process that others describe as "living"...
The whole book is delightfully stimulating, and as a taster, here is one passage which is eminently quotable in a pedagogical context -

Marks don't measure knowledge and have never done so. On the other hand they measure the combination of knowledge and self-image, and a whole load of other things, who knows what.

The figure shows an old rule-of-thumb which says that a pupil can show as much of his knowledge - for a particular teacher, before a particular class - as his self-image allows:

A. If the self-image is lower than the level of knowledge, it can be assumed that the mark will be lower than the level of knowledge.

B. Self-image is at the same level as knowledge. There is a reason to think that the mark is fair.

C. Self-image is higher than knowledge. Apart from the fact that the mark will probably be wrong and too high, there is reason for caution. People with that combination can be completely destructive to deal with.

There is a problem with these three variants. Even if you could measure both knowledge and self-esteem reasonably correctly, it can't be done with the same scale. So you never know for certain when A, B or C apply.

The same teacher who destroyed a pupil's self-image is the one to punish him if he reacts against it. To be a pupil and break the rules is punishable, even if no-one is hurt. To damage a pupil seems seldom or never to be punishable: rather the reverse, a teacher's reputation is enhanced among his colleagues who admire his strictness in dealing with disciplinary questions.

Other teachers wave a magic wand and create flowering, even in pupils who had decided that wasn't possible, by enhancing their self-esteem...


On being human

Heredity & Environment in relation to time


summarised by David Kettlewell

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