I have been going over this in my head for the past couple of weeks. But, I realized that what I have to say needs to be said.
Now, with the exception of those few “4.0” students (who never got less than an A on every assignment in their life), all of us have gotten a grade that could be considered “bad” at some point or the other. I remember my first “bad” grade was a D on a math test in 3rd grade. I didn’t know that much about grades, but what I did gather from books and what not is that A’s were good and anything else was bad. I was home schooled up until halfway through the 3rd grade. Being at home probably helped me more than being in school, in that I didn’t have something or some “standard” to compare my intelligence to. If I messed up on some school work at home, my mom wouldn’t say “You failed!” or “This is bad”, but that I didn’t do it right. In a nice calm manner, she would explain that there was another way to solve the problem and that I needed to try again. I never would have thought of calling myself “stupid” or other terrible names before I entered school. Recently, I have been looking back on those years and have come to the realization that there is a problem with the way schools do things.
Grades are simply the education system’s way of determining if you are competent enough to memorize and regurgitate the information that is presented to you. They are no indicator of intelligence (unless you are in an advanced placement class, or have a learning disability that has gone undiscovered or something). There also isn’t much room to check for the understanding of the materials presented (that’s a whole other post in itself). My grades fluctuated through 6-10th grade. I really didn’t start making solid grades until I sat back and realized all I had to do was the work and make sure I memorized everything for the test. The only areas that I really had trouble with were math or science stuff, where you had to figure out a problem or go through a step-by-step process. After I got a tutor, things were fine. I know that when it comes to certain topics, the grades can somewhat of an indicator of the knowledge of the material (say chemistry or geometry for example). There have been many times where I got a “bad” grade because I didn’t know what the hell I was doing because I didn’t understand how to do the problem. That didn’t mean I was stupid. I just didn’t take the time to learn about the topic in a way that would make it work for me. To really understand things, we have to understand it, making it something that is personal and that can be applied to life. Memorizing and regurgitating does not help you learn, but rather indicates that you can memorize well.
Aside from those who really don’t care about school, anybody can make “good” grades if they take the time to memorize what was presented to them and make sure they stay on top of the busy work. The real learning happens outside of the classroom, in your everyday life (which is a reason I am so pro-home schooling/unschooling). Think of how many more kids would have higher self-esteem when it comes to school work if they didn’t label themselves and were labeled based off of their grades.
How will schools know if kids are learning if they don’t use grades, you ask? Well that is another conversation for another forum. My goal of this post is to make people realize that they actually are smart, and can achieve great things, regardless of what grades they make. As Amanda Palmer says, “…even if your grades are bad it doesn’t mean you’re failing.”