The most crippling word to hear as a student. Whether it be for self-fulfillment, parental reward, or eligibility, grades shape your life as a student. Grades defy your intelligence, your abilities, and your successes…or do they?
I have always struggled to appreciate the grading system. Part of this is there is no consistency. For example, I went to school in Gering, NE, our grading scale was A:100-94, B:93-87, C:86-80, D:79-74, F:74-0 but the school just across the river, Scottsbluff, practiced the grading scale of A:100-90, B:90-80, and so on. So this means that an “A” student at Scottsbluff could actually be a “B” student according to Gering’s grading system. Is that really fair to the student? What do you think I thought?
I wouldn’t say I am against grades, but I am definitely against categorizing students by grades. I don’t feel that a letter should define a student and their intelligence, ability, and skill. I also don’t feel that the letter justifies “learning.” As an “A” student in High School, I can hardly recall anything that I really “learned” based on the grade. The grade was my motivation, not learning.
I don’t know about you, but that is NOT what I want for my students. I don’t want them to feel the pressure of the grade or the disappointment of not receiving a grade they thought they deserved. I want my students to determine their achievement; I just don’t know how to do that, or if I can without “breaking” a school rule. But then again, what’s the harm in breaking the rules in a system that clearly didn’t work for me?
If the rest of the schooling system is in need of a change, I definitely believe the grading system is in need of some desperate housekeeping. Not only has the grading system labeled our students it has labeled our abilities as a teacher. If a student isn’t doing well in school, the teacher is the first to be blamed, especially by the parents.
This isn’t what teaching is about. Grades are not what “schooling” should be about. I fully believe in learning and teaching learning to be fun, to be a habit, and to be a life-long committment.