Satire or 'antiracist' teaching? Professor says he is 'ungrading,' letting students teach each other

A professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville tweeted that this upcoming semester he will be 'ungrading' and 'unteaching.'

Though the professor claimed the post was satire, the grading philosophy has similarities to Labor-Based Grading, which Campus Reform covers.

Timothy Gill, an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, tweeted yesterday that he intends to spend the semester “ungrading” and “unteaching” his students. 

”I want this to be THEIR classroom,” tweeted the sociology professor, who also expressed his intention to let the student select “the readings for the class” as well as teach “via group presentations.” 

Campus Reform reached out to Gill for comment.

“I have one word for you. Here it is: Satire,” Gill responded. 

Whether Gill’s tweet was satire, it does echo grading and pedagogical philosophies currently pushed in academia as alternatives to conventional grading systems, specifically Labor-Based Grading. 

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Campus Reform has reported on Arizona State University professor Asao Inoue’s push for Labor-Based Grading. 

Last fall, Inoue explained the tenets of Labor-Based Grading to Campus Reform. 

“While the qualities of student writing is still at the center of the classroom and feedback, it has no bearing on the course grade,” Inoue said at the time. 

He then added that grading “is a racist and White supremacist practice” because “it requires a single, dominant standard.” 

On Nov.  5, Inoue gave a lecture at the University of Tennessee, titled “The Possibilities of Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies,” arguing for the abolition of what he sees as the racist traditional grading system in favor of Labor-Based Grading.

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Inoue’s book, Labor-Based Grading Contracts: Building Equity and Inclusion in the Compassionate Writing Classroom, is a Marxist project that “argues for the use of labor-based grading contracts along with compassionate practices to determine course grades as a way to do social justice work with students,” according to the publication description. 

Asao B. Inoue declined to comment for this article. 

Gill’s Jan. 5 tweet garnered several negative responses

”I had a professor that did this student based learning once and I hated it,” one reply read. “When each student is at a somewhat different level the burden falls on the more advanced students to teach the content while learning nothing new because the professor did not share their knowledge.”

Campus Reform has reached out to University of Tennessee. This article will be updated accordingly.

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