Can Everyone Succeed?

Most of us have come through an education system at school (or college) where exams are feared. We work long hours, sometimes through the night, to prepare. We enter the imposing hall, open the question paper and then, in a race against time, we try to get through all the questions. At the end of the time someone says ‘Stop!’, we hand in our paper and go out to celebrate what will hopefully be the end of that grade or even that chapter of our lives. Oh, and I almost forgot. Sometime later (sometimes weeks or even months), the results are published. Some hopes are met, others are dashed. There are several features about this ritual that I’d like us to note. First, the hype that accompanies it. It’s a big deal! Second, it’s a gate the keeps some out and lets others in. Third, even those who are let in are segregated into different categories for reward purposes. A few receive special honours, usually recognised in some way (a badge, a hat, a ribbon), while others have lesser symbols of status – maybe just a pass. Ancient Roman society was carefully stratified into different levels of importance. The way you wore your clothes showed how important you were. Those at the very top even got to ride in fancy chariots. Imagine! Why do we do it this way? And what keeps us doing it this way? Traditions are sometimes difficult to break. The traditional system made sure that only a few people did well – one couldn’t have too many people riding in chariots. Who would be left to admire them! But this was never much fun for the majority who just passed, or for the few who failed altogether. What if everybody could do well? Do we really need a system that favours just the few who find exams easy, who understand what it is that they have to do, who are familiar with the language, who think and write quickly? Why should there be only one way of learning? At SkillWise we believe there is another way. What if assessments were used as tools for growth and learning, instead of markers for building a status pyramid? What if students were allowed to set their own goals and to keep trying until they reached or exceeded them? What if they were given all the time they needed to reach the high standard that they had set for themselves? What if we celebrated perseverance and achievement, rather than early and natural advantages? Guess what? The whole structure of winners and losers would be turned on its head! As a brilliant by-product, people would take control of their own futures and stand tall alongside their fellow citizens, for all could be capable and competent, even if they got there by different routes. We are describing mastery learning – a completely different approach to learning and testing that enables everyone to succeed. This is why the SkillWise training is quite unlike all the other digital training programs out there in the market place. In the SkillWise training, there is no such thing as failure; failure is just the way we learn. There is no shame, no stigma. This is why we, at SkillWise, find it so exciting to watch our students growing and struggling, and then, again and again, emerging like brilliant butterflies out of the process! It’s no mystery, but it is all due to the careful design and development of our technology-for-learning, with principles and practices that we have been developing over the last 25 years. Where failure is just the way we learn. No stigma. With mastery learning, everyone is a winner! Everyone can succeed!

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