What does ranking our children do to them mentally?
Speaking from a teacher’s perspective, ranking our children serves no purpose at all. In fact the only effects it will actually have are negative and they apply to every single child in the room.
Firstly, and more importantly we should be celebrating the individual victories, strengths and goals of each child as an individual, thus building self-esteem, confidence, independence, compassion and acceptance amongst the other children in the school.
Where one child might be capable of solving Pythagoras, another child in the same class may still be struggling to learn how to calculate a simple addition. Both children have goals and when they reach them, or progress towards them, we celebrate.
Ranking your class causes only anguish and isolation for everyone involved.
To start with, the top of the class doesn’t need telling he’s the smartest, it embarrasses him and isolates him. Then there’s the next three children in the pecking order who are questioning why they weren’t top?
The big group in the middle are stuck in no-mans land. Neither top, nor bottom. “If you work harder you may be as smart as Sarah, but if you don’t listen carefully you’ll be at the bottom like our next victims of ranking.
Then we get to bottom of the class. The bottom 5. Well these guys are devastated. They put on a brave face, but deep down they’re devastated. Crying inside, walking home with tears in their eyes. Their motivation is a rock bottom. In fact everyone’s is.
During this process nobody wins, there is no positive outcome but still it happens day in and day out for thousands of children across the world. I’ve been the boy walking home crying, I’ve been the guy told “You came last”
But the failure is not that of the child. It is a problem of the system, the grading, the standardised approach to teaching, learning and assessment that has failed. Where is the differentiation? Where’s the acceptance that not everyone learns in the same way?
It is never the child’s fault so who is actually to blame here? Did we meet all their needs? Did we extend those who needed it? Did we accomodate for those children with learning difficulties?
If we want an educational revolution that focuses on mental well-being and emotional intelligence then let’s scrap rankings altogether.
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