Thoughtful piece. This is less a ‘How to’ build castles in the air as it is a ‘We need to’ build castles in the air because we cannot find a foundation. Maybe, though, one of the reasons grades make for such an ‘effective’ tool has less to do with assessment and more to do with the fact that education is compulsory, with little demand to answer the question of purpose or value once past primary school. A student has every right to ask what value, say, calculus or Shakespeare has, but in the current system all a teacher really has to say in reply is ‘because’ and then brandish the grade as a gun to enforce the work. Nor, really, does the teacher have much say either — they are just as trapped as the student.
Motivation is ultimately irrelevant when the student is given no choice whether to be there or not; intrinsic or extrinsic really only act as tools to make the job easier or more difficult.