As many of us gear up for our final exams and the long slog of grading, the approach of a former University of California (San Diego) teacher is particularly enticing. Libs of Tik Tok, the previously banned group on Twitter, posted a video of Chandler Puritty where she explained that one way that she has found to “decolonize a classroom” has been to guarantee all students As and no homework. She also said that she built in “weeks of excused absences” for those who need to skip classes entirely.
Puritty explained how the course worked at the University of California:
“We do not grade over here. Anyone who takes my class automatically gets an A. They’re told in the first week that they’re going to get an A. The only thing that’s required is attendance, and I have weeks of excused absences built in, so that if people are sick or they have family obligations it won’t affect their grade..
… Since I’m not grading them – I’m just giving them As – so how do I know that they’re doing anything, and how do I know that they’re learning anything,… I also don’t give homework, surprise surprise — and I run a discussion-style classroom, my students and I have equal part when it comes to bringing information to the table,. We all sit together and share what we’re talking about, and they get to use their critical thinking skills to apply the things they learned in all their other classes.”
One can see the attraction for students as well as faculty in such courses.
As discussed in an earlier column on a course at Lawrence University, students surprisingly prefer courses without grades, homework, or exams. With a prior course with no homework, exams, and guaranteed passing grades, I noted the course could be defended as harmless given the fact that no grades are actually awarded other than a single credit.
In the UCSD course, however, you were guaranteed an A, which is a considerable enhancement from the pass/fail option.
Purrity has been recognized at UCSD for her teaching initiatives and research. According to her bio at UCSD, Purrity remains a Ph.D. candidate in biology and “received the UCSD Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action and Diversity Award, nominated by the Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs as well as funding from the UC Office of the President’s UC-HBCU Initiative, the UCSD Competitive Edge Award, and the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSFGRFP).”
Moreover, Purrity has publicly responded to critics by saying that UCSD was eager for her to continue to teach at the school.
Purrity stated in a new posting on TikTok that those who oppose her “decolonial teaching style” should know that she “quit six months ago (and they begged me to stay).”