A lesson on marking from Lilly, aged 7

6th December 2013

When my daughter, Lilly, was seven, she brought home from school a pencil drawing of the two-faced god, Janus. She didn’t show me or her mum, but put the picture on a table in the front-room where I found it later that night.

When I saw it, I asked her why she hadn’t shown it to us. She said she didn’t think much of it. This didn’t sound right, the picture was beautiful and she had clearly spent a lot of time and care on it. I looked at it again. In the bottom right hand corner was a tick and a stamp that said: “Good work”. I covered them up with my thumb.

“What do you think now?” I said.

“I like it, I think its the best picture I’ve ever drawn.” She replied.

I took my thumb away,

“And now?”

“Its OK… just, ‘good’.”

I started thinking about my own class.

“What do you think of your teachers writing on your work?” I asked.

“I don’t mind, if its not my best work, but this is my best work and it is better than ‘good’.” She answered.

“What about if your teacher had written her feedback on a post-it?” I asked.

“That would have been better.” She agreed.

“And what about if she didn’t tell you if she thought it was good or bad, but just gave you some advice on how to make it better?”

Lilly thought about this for a while, “I’d like that.” She said.

Later we covered up the unwanted marks with Tippex and Lilly put the picture up on the wall in her bedroom.


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