The Opportunity to Fail
As many homeschoolers do, my kids learn to a level of mastery. We just keep exploring a subject until I feel they have a level of familiarity that merges with their real world experience. (i.e. I try to help them answer the question, "Why should I know this?") In this scenario they always succeed. Awarding grades, therefore, is moot.
This week, my oldest son had the opportunity to "fail." During his theater class, he had the chance to develop a very short play based on Charlotte's Web. I went to watch their production and it, frankly, did not go well. Lines were forgotten, few props and costumes were prepared, backs to the audience, lots of unintentional movements. My son emerged from his class to say, "We will probably get the worst grade of all the groups." He's thinking, "This sucks. " But I'm thinking, "So what?"
He learned something and he's not done learning theater yet. Grades, at this point, are counterproductive for him. There is still more skill and content to learn and the timeline for doing so is not yet up (will it ever be?). But the fact that he has self-impressed himself to move toward a better grade is an opportunity he does not get at home. I'm interested to see where this motivation will take him.