Philip has been studying hard in all of his classes. He's struggling with two of
his subjects, but is doing his best and getting help after school from his
teachers. He knows he's worked hard this marking period, but he is still
nervous when he receives his report card. Does this sound familiar? Why do
we worry, when the basic purpose of school is to educate people, and to
teach them the skills they will need to be successful in college, the workplace,
and in everyday life. To rate one's progress, schools have a special unit of
measure. Grades are used to show how well, or how poorly a student is
doing in a particular area. But in truth, do they help or hurt the student?
There is question as to whether children are motivated to learn, or to simply
pull the grade. Grades don't accurately reflect what a student has, or has not
learned.
A student who is obsessed with grades is often a troubled one. Much
stress is accumulated because all that matters is having an A on that next
report card. Anything less, and the child isn't satisfied. In many cases, a
student merely memorizes the material needed to get a good mark on a test,
and everything is forgotten within a few days. The student gets the A, and in
turn has learned nothing.
People assume that students who have all A's are always more
intelligent than students whose grades aren't quite as high. For example,
Susan could take Mickey Mouse classes all year long, pull straight A's, and
walk away with less knowledge than Philip, who has taken more difficult
classes and passed with B's and C's. Some students have figured out exactly
what they need to do to get a good grade. They do just that, and walk away
whether they have learned the material presented to them or not.
Other students just don't perform well under pressure. A person can
study, learn all of the material, understand it, and collapse under the pressure
of a big test or exam. When a student knows that a major portion of their
overall grade rests on one particular assignment, whether it be a test, quiz,
exam, or essay question, the student may panic. When one is too panicked or
trying to concentrate too hard, their mind can draw blanks. The information
is there but is inaccessible because the brain is too focused on the weight of
the assignment.
Quite often, if a student is totally focused on grades it is because he is
being motivated by someone other than himself. Perhaps a parent is pushing
Philip too hard to bring home all A's, or a coach is concerned with Susanís
eligibility for a school sport. Maybe a teacher wants to see Philip make the
high honor roll. The child begins to feel that if he does not bring home these
outstanding grades all of the time, he will disappoint someone. The student
never really takes time to think about what he wants to get out of school.
Students get pushed to the point where they will resort to anything to get the
grades, do anything to achieve them. Perhaps, if the stress is too high, Susan
will resort to cheating so as to bring home a good mark. Susan does, in fact,
get a good grade, but he has learned nothing in the process.
Some students and parents look at good grades, as being the only way
to get into college. This is not altogether true, for as many college students
can attest to, if a student has the money, the college will accept. Financial
aid, however, does depend quite a bit on grades. A student of a low income
family should be aware of the need to do his best at all times, with no
slacking. If, however, Aís are just not attainable, there is still hope. A lower
costing community college for one or two years, is all that a student needs. If
a high grade point average is earned while in the community college, a
student may transfer to a larger school with scholarship money, regardless of
high school records. Perhaps a student is still unable to pull the grades in
college, a community college will still get him a degree, and will be within the
price range of the family. The point is, that while grades are important to get
financial aid for the bigger schools, they are not required to get into a college
and earn a degree. Anyone who is willing to