Education is considered to be a complex and nuanced process. The process facilitates learning as well as the acquisition of skills, knowledge, values, habits, and beliefs in life. It is important in shaping the perspective of the world around us by building opinions as well as the points of view on various issues in life. On the other hand, grades which have mostly been used in the education system are simple and arbitrary. The system is based on points alone and does not give the children an opportunity to think outside the box. The system limits the learners from freely developing his or her ideas and getting involved in the intellectual speculations. According to Albert Einstein, every individual is a genius in their ways, but in the incident that a fish is judged by its ability to climb a tree, the fish will forever live thinking it is stupid. Thus, the education system ought not to rely on the simple five-point scale to judge and evaluate the academic aptitude of thousands of students who were born with different talents and therefore needs to be eliminated from the education system.
The education system has made everything in the schools to be subservient to the grades. The educators all-round the world regardless of their prowess in other co-curriculum activities have only one bargaining chip which is their grades as their most potent tool (Kohn 31). Nonetheless, in reality, the five letter grading system that has been implemented across the globe is neither informative nor effective in summarizing the capabilities of an individual. Despite the abilities of an individual, getting bad grades in school is always stigmatizing and discouraging to those who might be in need of help. In most cases, the good grades are often rewarding and can elevate the individuals with cognitive as well as the intellectual advantages over others. In a real sense, the grades are mere oversimplifications of the abilities of the students to learn and apply what they have learned.
The existing system of grading is inherently subjective, punitive, and reductive. Grading is deeply ingrained in the education system and would take enormous systematic and infrastructural changes to come up a replacement to the grades. However, it is in the way education is perceived and understood amongst the stakeholders that are making it difficult to do away with the system. As per the current settings of the education system, grading is not a driving force to educational enlightenment. In most cases, the grades have been a leading source of stress among the students as it brings the pressure to pass. Thus, it is not particularly a better tradeoff on which to judge the abilities of individuals at various levels of education. For example, in colleges, students ought to be inspired to higher levels of discourse, personal growth, and knowledge. However, the inspiration cannot come forth in a system where the ability of an individual is judged by a system based on points regardless of his or her abilities. The stakeholders ought to be effective, imaginative, and inspiring in the ways; they evaluate the endeavors of the students. Rational considerations need to be taken in the evaluation of the abilities of the students.
The system has deeply conditioned students. In most cases, during the exam periods, the candidates are subjected to stress and anxiety regardless of their level of preparation (Kohn 29). The anticipation of the results and subsequent failure to get grades leads to anxiety, stress, and maybe depression and may also lead to death. Without the grades, a feedback mechanism can be put in place to help the students be aware of their performance in a given test. In most cases, feedbacks are always positive regardless of the performance. Positive feedback is always encouraging and gives the student a zeal to work harder.
However, we have been conditioned to the grading system. The lack of getting grades in an academic endeavor always leads to academic emptiness. They have been used by the students to gauge their positions on the continuum between excellence and failure. According to Sackstein (2014), in the classroom without grades experiment, students had different reactions. Most of the students were uncomfortable with the arrangement due to lack of an easily digestible evaluation metric to gauge their performance. The experiment showed the level at which the grading system has been ingrained in the education system making it impossible for the students to learn without grades and in the cases where a change has to be implemented, a complete overhaul must be done from the grassroots.
According to Schinske and Kimberly (2014), the concept of ranking originated from the university level (159). In 1785, Yale University came up with the idea of grading the students and was followed by Mount Holyoke College which introduced the letter grades in 1897, after that the system was adopted by various schools across the globe (Schinske 162). Thus, the system is ingrained in the education system, and the grades which the students are given carry a lot of meaning in the outside world. Every institution across the globe hold grades as sacred. Thus, students have no option but to accept the system. As a result, employers have been left with a few reliable measures to evaluate their potential employees such as the academic aptitude tests; the policymakers have been left with illustrative indicators such as the school performances while the administrators can only quantify the capabilities of the students from their grades.
Despite the few advantages of the grading system, some of the Sackstein's students acknowledged the classroom without grades experiment. They noted that the system gave them a new perspective on looking at schoolwork. The method made them more aware of the environment forcing them to find other sources of motivation apart from grades. There was an increased motive to get involved in the discussions and the assignments. The experiment was a clear demonstration of other existing effective ways of evaluating the aptitude, the comprehension, and the progress of the students rather than the grading. Thus, often, the students who are the custodians of their abilities are always in the best position to evaluate their progress, comprehension, and growth without having to be stressed with the grades. Given this mandate, the students can make honest and objective evaluations of their abilities than when a grade is used.
Also, in technical or practical disciplines, grades should not be a key requirement. These disciplines progress on knowledge, information, ingenuity, and ideas. Evaluation of an individual's abilities in these fields requires more nuanced assessments that cannot be provided by grades. Thus, there is a need to introduce more competence-based modes of evaluation that will demonstrate the student's mastery of a particular set of skills. Institutions such as Antioch College, Alverno College, New College of Florida and many others have abandoned the grading system (Schinske 161). Thus, educators do not require grading to be motivated and consequently needs to be eliminated in schools.
Kohn, Alfie. "The case against grades." Educational Leadership 69.3 (2011): 28-33.
Sackstein, Starr. "Students React To A Classroom Without Grades." Education Week - Work in Progress. N. p., 2014. Web. 8 Dec. 2018.
Schinske, Jeffrey, and Kimberly Tanner. "Teaching more by grading less (or differently)." CBE-Life Sciences Education13.2 (2014): 159-166.
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