March 6, 2010

What are grades?

Number of students stresses over grades and their quality of performance in school. So many of us cannot answer this simple question correctly – or many will not even attempt to answer it. This question deals with the most sensitive topic: the grades.

Last Friday, all freshmen had to “discuss” about grades and its relation to education. (Note the word with quotations around it. It is not done coincidentally; I did it on purpose.) There were two scenarios, and they were extremely familiar.  I had this sense of feeling that those “fictional” scenarios were adapted from my confessions.

This really puts me down. I felt like as if I was the “bad example.”

The first scenario was about whether or not efforts should reflect on grades. I think efforts should not reflect on grades. My previous teachers have always emphasized, “quality over quantity.” Teachers should not grade assignments based on aesthetic appeals or the amount of writing, unless those two were required. They should grade purely on the quality; it is the reality of life. I’ve put everything in to my English class assignments, yet the grade was lower than other classes in the first semester. At first, I degraded myself, constantly lost self-confidence, and hated the fact that I lacked the aptitude for English. This didn’t help any: my subsequent days were miserable. I do not know how I swerved from those days, and “woke up.” Instantly, I categorized my bluster of thoughts, listed the underlying problems, and regained my self-confidence. Nowadays, I try to fix my mistakes before moving on to challenging materials. Back in the days, I used to cover my mistakes with challenging materials, which were not in a perfect shape either. I think the moral to this scenario is simple: learn when, where, how to lavish all the time and effort.

The second scenario was about a girl, who got straight A’s, except one class. Once again, this story is too familiar; it seems like my story. The question was whether the teacher should change the grade. Of course not. Grades are something that students have to earn, just like how adults have to earn money. There must be a reason why she’s failing in that class. Although my point was brutally neglected at the conference, I have an unyielding argument: she needs to fix her mistake. She should never just learn from her mistake; she needs to analyze her mistake, acknowledge it, and learn how to improve it. Learning from mistake is easy; fixing it the correct way is hard. Most of my friends agreed with my point after the conference, despite the fact that it was torn apart into pieces, instantly.

This time was especially valuable for me, because I knew the story by heart. Yet, it was quite upsetting. It ruined my day for sure. It hurt my feelings, and let me down. But, this does not matter because I’m ready, now. I am ready to cry; I am ready to struggle; I am ready to challenge. No pain, no gain. Once again, I took another step to maturity.

Happiness Does Not Come In Grades, 1989 (A Korean Movie)

I guess this could prove how much students, especially Koreans, are obsessed with grades since 1980’s.

This is a video related to “low grades.” It’s for entertainment, and pay close attention to the lyrics.


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