By: Ambleside Schools International
The aim of Ambleside Schools is student growth, and one of the distinctives of an Ambleside education is that student growth is not measured by grades.
In Hyde Cox’s introduction to Robert Frost’s book of poems You Come Too, he shares how the wisdom learned from Frost taught him the difference between growth and progress.
He taught me that growth is a bigger word than progress. When I was a boy, I thought that all sorts of inventions and changes that represented progress were all important. But I learned from him that progress is what men may or may not achieve, while growth is what is intended for us. Growth implies the inevitable rounding out, the fulfillment of living things.
This inevitable rounding out and the fulfillment of persons is often disrupted by parents and teachers who begin to measure a child’s experiences and progress and make comparisons. “She is crawling later than… but talking earlier than….” “My oldest knew the alphabet by 20 months, he was a natural. Yet, all my children were reading by four.”
As formal education begins, whether at home or school, the measuring intensifies. Opportunities arise to “best” one another through grades, awards, and prizes. Parents sometimes act as the great equalizer, spouting the exceptional progress of their children in sports, music, or academic work, differentiating one from the other.
In the 21st century, progress is a supreme value in education. So, it is not surprising that much of school life is viewed as progressing from one grade to the next in classes for gifted and talented, advanced studies, and honors, with some progressing more rapidly than others…