Jan 19, 2012
Comments Off on Banning the Word ‘Final’

Banning the Word ‘Final’

Is it time that we remove the word ‘final’ from schools?

You know, final marks, final assignment? Should we be creating an educational culture that sees learning end?


First semester is drawing to a close and my students start talking about how they are so happy to be “done” with certain subjects, “done” with certain ideas, etc. They can’t wait to see their “final” marks. And the more students talk about school with this finality, it worries me. It worries me that semantically we’ve associated the end of a semester and the distribution of grades with the ending of learning.

I worry that a student who gets his “final” mark in Grade 12 English believes he is done learning English.

It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that students ever finish a subject. Some may think that I’m getting all worked up about a semantic detail, however, I think it is more than that.  This contributes to a student’s disengagement with the material.  This semantic minutiae may be what allows for students to give up on courses and subjects.

When did Apple decide they were done with their first product? Microsoft? I’d argue that any person who creates will readily recognize that they are never finished with the process. The learning never ends.  In fact, those that do believe they are done rarely are able to innovate and are often relegated to obsolescence.

And so, maybe we need to rethink the way school deals with growth, achievement, and minor semantics. Maybe we don’t call it a “final” grade? Maybe we rethink continuity of learning?  Maybe we ban the word “final”?


I use Evernote with my students to provide feedback on their assignments. As the semester progresses, they are able to look back through that notebook and see what I said on their first essay. But also, I am able to look back and see what I said on their first essay.

What if this was expanded?

Every teacher had access to a student’s Evernote notebook and I could look back and see what their Grade 9 English teacher said about their essay writing skills. What if the feedback from Grade 9 isn’t irrelevant and instead helps establish where a student continues.

Then we never get a ‘final’ exam, just an exam that continues to tell us something about where that student is with those specific skills.


Or do teachers/students/parents/administrators need/want finality? Something to hang their hat on. You know, the ability to say, “My daughter got an 80 in English.”

Comments are closed.

6 color styles available:

Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.