Grades. I've come to loathe the word.
It took ten years of teaching for me to reach this level of hatred for the entire grading concept. I think my feelings towards grades began to sour a few years ago, but my dislike has now reached epic proportions.
Students are obsessed with grades. For example, it wasn't until I started teaching that I realized the monumental difference between a 92% and a 93%. The difference is a tiny little dash (-) at the end of the letter "A" which can rip a student apart and send them spiraling towards failure. Students will do anything for extra credit - and I mean anything. They've offered to leave campus and buy me lunch. They've offered clean my house. They've called me a dream crusher who has prevented them from getting into college. They've cried, begged, pleaded and threatened. All for the tiniest half of a percentage.
They behave - and, as I've come to believe, truly feel - as if that .4% defines them as a person.
So, perhaps you can see why I've started to cringe when I hear the word "grades." These students are bright and inquisitive. They are funny, and kind, and intelligent. They share knowledge with me. They grow as writers over the year. The surprise me with their resilience and their dedication to their dreams.
They learn so much over the course of 10 months.
Now, there's a word I can get behind. Students are sent to school to learn, aren't they? We want them to have enough knowledge to make them productive citizens, to help them lead our country in the future, to give them the fortitude to survive a world which isn't always kind. School is about learning. Lately, though, students and parents have largely lost sight of that.
I don't have any solutions to this problem. I understand the fundamental need for a feedback system and for a way to measure a student's progress. Maybe the larger issue is the incredible rise in competition over the years. Students think they have to have a 4.0 or higher with 20 AP classes under their belt in order to get into college. Either way, based on the trend, I don't see it stopping any time soon.
Until then, I'll continue to resist their offers of food. And a tall, skim, toffee-nut latte from Starbucks is my favorite.
Beth - 0
Students - 0
Grading System - 1