Points vs. Learning

Something dawned on me tonight as I sat with my son, Patrick, while he was completing his homework. Patrick is your typical, high energy, second grade boy who enjoys going to school. The amount of work he completes each week is amazing to me – I see packets, workbooks, and projects stream in from school on a very regular basis (nothing digital as of yet – I’ll save that for another post). What dawned on me is Never once has he noticed points or grades. He doesn’t get a lot, but enough that I notice them. The weekly spelling test, the chapter math tests, the occasional writing assessments – probably the usual for a second grade class. What baffles me is that he doesn’t care about them. I know he sees them on his papers, but they seem to hold little meaning. But he is learning and loves it. He talks about his new learnings all of the time. So my question is When do the points become more important to kids than the learning?

As a middle school teacher, it was the rare tween who was not focused on the points. No matter how many soapboxes I stood on professing the power of learning and intrinsic motivation, it didn’t seem to matter quite as much to them. So when does this transition take place? When do kids stop caring so much about their own learning and start to worry more about the points?

Any ideas?

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