I didn’t want to like him, let alone agree with him.

There I sat yesterday morning, in a high school auditorium on my last day of summer vacation, listening to Rick Wormeli spout his radical, subversive, unconventional approach to grading.

I teach Rhetoric, so I went to the presentation armed with my best Rhetoric weapons: looking for logical fallacies, paying close attention to connotative language, trying to poke holes in his argument.

Two problems I didn’t expect to encounter. First, he was an engaging presenter. Second, he made some sense.

I still have questions–the most pressing is if we move to standards-based grading, will it translate to effectively preparing our students for college? Which just leads to more questions, like…what does it mean to prepare our students for college? My idea of that started to shift today.

But here’s what I’m starting to learn about myself: I like to try things to prove they don’t work. For example, this summer I embarked on two major endeavors. I set a goal to run/walk 100 miles, and then I decided to give up diet Coke. I figured if I didn’t feel better, or if my body otherwise revolted through injury or mental insanity, I had my evidence: running bad, diet Coke good.

Well, I’m 15 miles away from 100 miles, and I’ve converted to the gospel of sparkling water. My body has not revolted–no shin splints, no ankle or knee pain–in fact my body is stronger, can run longer and faster. Plus I’ve experienced all those other health benefits like lowered blood pressure (not that mine was high to begin with), lowered blood sugar (again–never a danger), more restful sleep, blah blah blah.

I’m not a convert by any means, and like I said, I still have many questions. But perhaps I should at least give some of Wormeli’s ideas a try. You know, to prove they don’t work.

But if my summer health experiment is any indication, I’ll probably just end up proving they do.



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