That’s an ‘A’ for us here in my district. But what does it mean? As a Math teacher I’ve boosted an 84% up two points to hand out the often elusive ‘A’, and I’ve also adamantly refused to move an 85% up to that plateau. Because to me the mark should represent a level of comprehension that ‘points’ on a test don’t always represent well. Perhaps that’s because my tests were flawed, as the results on them didn’t always represent how much the concepts were understood.
But why do ‘WE’, educators and students, put so much weight on ‘the grade’ in the first place? How much do they matter?
On his blog, “A Boundless World: Connecting Humanity Unleashing Potential”, Bud answers that question on behalf of himself and many of his graduating friends of the class of ’09:
The post is lengthy, but well worth the time to read it… go on now, I’ll wait right here…
Here was my comment response:
What a thoughtful post!
As Chris Lehman says in this video, “What happens in school is real life, not preparation for real life.”
I think that the ‘missing piece’ when it comes to education today, is that it tries to fill us with important things rather than make us feel important and valued… it feeds us content, but doesn’t leave us contented in any meaningful way.
I wrote a post a while back about the ‘Square Peg’ students that we try to fit into the ‘Round Holes’ of education. It seems both you and I have had an education that feels that way. I didn’t fit, but I didn’t care. I did assignments my way, not the teacher’s way and wore my C+ badge with honour.
I had some amazing teachers along the way, and I had some that weren’t… and the main difference was that the good ones inspired me to care and do my best.
But I think you hit the issue at the core, it is the system itself that seems to suck the life out of students at a young age. As you eloquently said,
“Education is about unleashing one’s confidence. Education is learning from failure. Education is growing from experience. Education is discovering your passions then pursuing them.
Education is not rote memorization. Education is not analyzing books that have no meaning to you. Education is not wasting your time on subjects you hate. Education is not being paralyzed because your afraid to fail.”
There is an old proverb that says, “When one eye is fixed upon your destination, there is only one eye left with which to find the Way” (Found in Zen in the Martial Arts by Joe Hyams.)
Marks seem to take our attention away from what matters. I find it funny that we can assess young kids without grades and then around Grade 3 we suddenly start indoctrinating students into the paradigm of good marks = success…. and the really important things we learn in Kindergarten about sharing, respecting and loving one another, as well as communicating how we feel and getting along with each other, suddenly takes a back seat to achieving some sort of success beyond these things that really matter.
Looking back on his post, I really like what Bud says here:
In no way am I suggesting getting good grades is a bad thing; that would be foolish. Getting good grades is not the problem. Allowing grades to dictate one’s life is.
Grades don’t guarantee success.
Passion + Determination + Positive Attitude = Success
I’ll give you an A if you transform the world
I’m not sure what others think, but I think that it is very likely Bud, and many of the other misfits and square pegs, will indeed transform the world.
A+ to you Bud… not that it matters!