18 March 2013

@ the italian primary school :: fourteen

Each Friday Young One brings a folder of graded work home to us, and like parents across America (and Italy?) we go through it with her, complete with some praise and some redoing and lots of, "The most important thing is that you did your best. Is this your best?" The work is often representative of her best efforts, but not always. She is amazingly honest with her admission of when it is not.

It provides proof of the progress, I suppose...though I find more value in the conversations that happen during homework time each evening and while prepping for tests with her.

This week I noticed that one of the simple worksheets with no visible red marks earned a "9" instead of the perfect "10." When I inquired with Young One, she replied that the work was too easy to deserve a "10" and that even though she did it perfectly, it was really only ever worthy of a "9." And she was completely accepting of that. Absolutely.

The highest marks are reserved for exceptional performance on rigorous tasks.

I just think that there is much to be learned from this mentality.

Disclaimer: I hate generalizations. This is my limited experience at my third grader's tiny primary school lost in northern Italy. If you have a different experience with this, please share!


  1. true. on the other hand, i often feel that there isn't enough incentive and total lack of a fair reward system in our schools. she got a 9 because the task was easy. but i bet that the pupil who made one mistake also got a 9. you probably need to be sanctified first, and then you can aspire to top grades :)

    1. I am often unable to discern the difference in the marks and I agree that it seems extremely subjective. However...I have grown so weary of grade inflation in my American school system that I am actually relived by this idea that kids should only be lauded for exceptional performance. Giving them all "A's" and "B's" in primary school promotes this culture of entitled children.

      Then again... I personally don't see the need for grades in primary school!