Couple of weeks ago, I was at the gym, training, when this kid, around the age of 10, came up to me and started asking me about exercises.
From the very first word he said, I noticed that there is something weird and unfamiliar about that kid. He was talking a bit slow, no accent, perfect Bulgarian language, but there was something different about him...
Later on, I overheard another kid asking him:
- So your thoughts are in Norwegian?
- Yes, they are, I think... - he said.
Then I connected the dots and realized what was different about him - he was living in Norway with his Bulgarian parents.
At the end of the workout, before I went out, I decided to ask the kid about the school he goes to.
He said he'll be in the 5th grade (or maybe even 6th, I forgot) this year and he hasn't been graded, yet... In Bulgaria, things are very different. We have grades from the very beginning of school and from 2nd grade on, you can be left to repeat a grade, if you can't keep up with the rest of the kids.
I've heard before about such an education system (no grades in the first school years) being used in western countries and I think this, probably, is the better approach.
Still, there is a very important component in the success of any system - fun.
I believe, that every educational system, with or without grades, should be fun. Kids should learn how to have fun working on problems and studying. Kids shouldn't be forced to study, until the required data gets in their heads. Instead, they should enjoy the process of studying. This is how they actively will want to learn and improve, not only while there is a teacher over their heads, but for the rest of their lives.