Results don't matter? Teaching that is a strange preparation for later life. Is any employer going to tell the kids that results don't matter?
A professor at Arizona State University is arguing that the traditional grading system is 'racist' and is calling for an end to 'white language' by encouraging teachers to grade students based on the labor they put into their work instead of factors like spelling, grammar or quality.
Asao Inoue, a professor of rhetoric and composition, has given a series of lectures on the topic and most recently delivered one during a virtual event Friday, during which he argued that labor-based grading 'redistributes power in ways that allow for more diverse habits of language to circulate,' the College Fix first reported.
During his lecture, titled The Possibilities of Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies, Inoue said: 'White language supremacy in writing classrooms is due to the uneven and diverse linguistic legacies that everyone inherits, and the racialized white discourses that are used as standards, which give privilege to those students who embody those habits of white language already.'
In other words, Inoue urged teachers to focus on how much effort students put into their assignments and understanding the lesson rather than traditional spelling, grammar and punctuation grading norms.
Inoue refers to the common way most teachers and professors grade papers as a phrase he coined called 'Habits of White Language,' or 'HOWL.' Inoue said that HOWL and white supremacy culture '[make] up the culture and normal practices of our classrooms and disciplines.'
'Labor-based grading structurally changes everyone's relationship to dominant standards of English that come from elite, masculine, heteronormative, ableist, white racial groups of speakers,' Inoue said.
Inoue wrote a blog post on the matter that he shared in a tweet on October 25 with the excerpt: 'The antiracist use of any model of English languaging should open up our eyes, ears, and hearts to our own and others' languaging behaviors... to open up the conventionality and unconventionality of both our models and our own languaging…'
In his blog, he addresses white teachers specifically and writes: 'You grade your students on the English you learned and grew up with, the kind of English in your models and training, but like those Filipino or Native American students, your students aren't you, nor are they like the authors of your models. They do not come from where you or those authors came from, not exactly. And they are not embodied in their language practices in the same ways as you are.'
He continued: 'Further, your students will likely use their Englishes for different things in their lives than you do. It's not that they don't stand to learn something good from your English or your models, but we too often grade them on how closely they are like our models. This means you punish students for not being like you or like your models.'
In his lecture, Inoue also asked teachers to consider one characteristic of white supremacy culture that they engage in during their courses, the College Fix reported. At another point in the presentation, he had participating teachers and students pause to exercise 'an important antiracist practice' of examining how they participate in racism or antiracism.
'Pausing in our work helps us intervene and disrupt by first noticing ourselves participating in racism, engaging in white fragility, in white rage, or white language supremacy,' he said.
Inoue's talk came during a 70-minute event hosted by the Rhetoric, Writing and Linguistics Speaker Series sponsored by the Department of English at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The discussion was geared toward professors but was also open to students, alumni and others.
According to an online description of the talk: 'Inoue poses problems about dominant standards of the English language in schools and universities and the Habits of White Language (HOWL) that are paradoxically meaningful and harmful to locally diverse students when used to evaluate their language performances and produce grades.'
Inoue told Fox News on Tuesday that 'labor-based grading ecologies are fundamentally about creating compassionate, democratic conditions, ones that are critical and rigorous, if by rigorous we mean deep, thoughtful, engagement with each other for each other's sake and not for grades or false external motivators that ultimately erode students' abilities to learn and take risks.'
Inoue said that he is not calling for an end to teaching spelling, grammar or punctuation, but what he's arguing 'for are safe classrooms that offer better, clearer ways to understand what it means to learn dominant forms of English in our world today'
'These new conditions can provide a wider group of students who come from a more diverse set of language backgrounds, to thrive and learn. This is important to do if we are to inquire about the politics of English language in our world that end up creating situations of misunderstanding and harm.'
Inoue said that he is not calling for an end to teaching spelling, grammar or punctuation, but rather: 'What I'm arguing for are safe classrooms that offer better, clearer ways to understand what it means to learn dominant forms of English in our world today.'
Inoue and his wife recently launched an antiracist teaching endowment that aims to fund 'an antiracist teaching conference for secondary and postsecondary teachers,' 'support a summer workshop or institute for a smaller group of teachers to learn about and research antiracist teaching approaches,' and create 'several scholarships for students who wish to focus on antiracist approaches to teaching in a variety of disciplines,' according to a blog post explaining the program.
In a tweet pinned on his profile, Inoue wrote: 'The new antiracist teaching endowment that my wife and I just started is now accepting donations! If you've benefited from my work at all over the years, consider donating something. Thanks!'