Is it more important to get an “A” or is it more important to actually learn? Is it more important to get an “A” in basic English or a “C” in Honors Literature? Is it more important to be able to read the book and have a conversation about the author and the paragraph or is it more important to comprehend the argument that the author is trying to make? My point is that we need to be able to differentiate the difference of superficiality and relevancy. I have had many conversations with parents who have no idea what their child is learning or being taught in school. Their concern is always the end result. The “A”.
Both of my children received a “C” in AP Calculus.I decided the fact that both worked so hard and learned the course was much more important than the letter grade. I was ecstatic because I watched them both study incredibly hard for the class and I knew that they had learned something. What is the point of receiving a high grade if the student hasn’t actually learned anything? The response I often-times hear is “I don’t care, as long as it’s an “A”. I would like to challenge that. If the student received an “A” in high school but did not learn s/he will pay for it later in college. This will contribute to the attrition that we currently have in college dropouts and low grades, especially minorities. There is a high attrition rate of first year students dropping out of college because they are simply overwhelmed with the course and unprepared for college.
Sometimes teachers also make the decision to reward a grade for the student when s/he has not earned it. This may produce immediate gratification for the teacher, parent, and student now but later on it may hurt that student when they are trying to make financial decisions and again when in the workforce and they may will not receive that gratification as quickly. This is especially evident in athletics where the concentration is focused far more on the sport rather than on the quality of education the student receives.
Let us demand more from our children and let us not get caught up with the cosmetics of the game. Our students should be taught critical thinking, not memorization. Critical thinking will allow them to continuously self educate throughout their lives. We want our students to be able to self educate and think independently so throughout their lives they are able to learn and master new skills in the workforce.