Daily Archives: February 11, 2015

Grade-based Education System: Is it as motivating as we’d like to believe?

grades“You’re an Alpha and I’m an Epsilon,” he said in a defeated tone, “it’s that simple.”

“Why would you say that?” I replied confused as to why he’d reference the Brave New World caste system at a time like this.

“The reason is because it’s true; I’m always sub-par to you. I always get B’s and C’s even when I try, why is that?” he replied with aggravation in his tone.

I thought about this question for long after the incident itself has occurred.  What seemed like a normal day in my French 3 class has turned into a festered pot of jealousy that was dividing a good friend and I.  This jealousy was fueled by competition that I couldn’t help but wonder if education was to blame for.  I tend to be a strong academic student and he tends to have a bit more of a struggle.  He’s extroverted and outspoken.  I’m quiet and often too shy at times.  What could I say to him?  I didn’t know why he got B’s and below while I obtained A’s on most school assignments.

“Is intelligence a natural-born gift?  I mean, I try to surround myself with smart people and I think that it may help but it never does,” he asked in a concerned voice.  I remained silent—after all I was the one who “didn’t understand” what it was like to struggle in school.  “You’re so lucky, you have a high GPA and can get into any college you want when you’re older, you don’t worry like I do” he said very assured by his comment.  However, what he didn’t understand was that I faced the same worries; the “validation” of an A didn’t secure how I felt about my own work ability much less my intellectual competency.  I replied after some though in the most honest yet respectful way I knew how, “I don’t think it’s either or, I think intelligence is something we all have but it comes in a spectrum like everything else around us. Yet it doesn’t mean one can’t work to improve what they don’t like about how they perform, it’s one’s job to work towards improvement”. Continue reading