For many students, including myself, a grade is much more than just a number. It represents what opportunity we have in the real world and where we rank among our peers.
Students are pressured to get good grades and in return they are given the approval of their parents, teachers, peers, and society. As students climb up each level in school, their grades become their identities.
The worst part about this is that grades don’t accurately measure the amount of student learning. A grade only measures what a student learns academically. As students grow, they learn life skills. Intelligence is not measured in numbers in the real world; it’s measured by your actions and how you handle situations that you’re put into.
An example of grades miscommunicating my learning outcome, was in art. I took art in eighth grade and got an A; this wasn’t a problem, but I didn’t learn anything. My teacher, although she was a good teacher, never taught us anything that really dealt with art. She would talk to us about her life, and she would always start out with the best intentions, but somehow journey into an entirely different topic until the bell rang.
Recently, I saw a very thought-provoking picture. It had a triangle diagram and on each end of the triangle, there were habits that one could have in their life. In the center of the triangle was written, “Choose two.” At the top of the triangle was ‘good grades’, at one of the other corners was ‘enough sleep’, and on the last side was ‘social life’. This is one of the biggest dilemmas that students must face. When I was in middle school, I always made good grades but I never had a social life. Now that I’m in highschool, I have many more social activities that prevent me from starting my homework earlier. Parents want their kids to have the best of all three. They want their teens to go out and do things with friends, but police themselves enough to where they’re still able to get everything done.
Parents fail to realize that the good grades their children bring home aren’t necessarily a good thing. The students may be sacrificing sleep or friends to maintain their grades. Unfortunately, sleep is usually the one to get the short end of the stick.
Grades do define your academic career, but what they don’t define is intelligence.
As a student myself, I can appreciate what it feels like to stress about grades. Since school is a large part of my life, my grades are very important to me, but activities outside of school are important to me as well. Although, it is very difficult trying to find a balance between the two especially when I have four to five hours of homework.
I propose that if we intend to fix this problem, we need to reinforce the negative feedback with positive feedback. School systems need to tailor learning to what each student needs specifically. By cutting down on how much homework students are given the system would be providing students with more sleep and time to socialize, and maintain good grades.
A number cannot successfully describe a student and their intelligence. Everyone learns differently, and trying to judge everyone on an A-F scale simply doesn’t work.