On Grade Cards and Locks

My uncle always told me, “Locks are for honest people.” He explained that if a thief wants to get pass a lock he does. The locks only guard against honest people. Still, I lock my car doors. We also have strong locks all over our properties that stay locked. You’d call me irresponsible otherwise.

If locks are only for honest people then I have a similar line of reasoning in regards to education. I would say that grades (or notes) on schoolwork are only for approval seekers in society. Those who excel with top grades either do so effortlessly or find a great level of satisfaction in the approval of superiors. Those who get average or below average grades quickly learn to not care about their grades simply doing enough to get by and at times not even that.

There are the exceptions to the rule of students who were once underachievers and then pull their grades up but not due to the fact that grades are given out. Usually a turn around of that nature is the result of a superior in the young person’s life taking a special interest and helping the student to feel that getting good grades is an important part of being successful in life. Grades by themselves are not a sufficient motivation to change behavior. I would even dare to say that the grades standing alone would be a discouragement in the case of a person who is not in the habit of getting high grades.

Yet, grades of some nature will exist in every stage of our lives. So a few words to those of us who interact with students.

  • Encourage learners to love the learning process
  • Encourage learners to do their best and be proud of that
  • Encourage learners to applaud their fellow learners

I understand that grades are used to determine percentages and the “quality” of schools and that gets around to funding and taxes and bureaucracy. The people who have the duty of juggling those policy issues have my utmost respect and I wouldn’t wish for that job under any circumstance.

The irony is that I am a co-founder and fellow administrator of a school! Ha! The double irony is that I have nothing more than a high-school diploma and there are dozens of university graduates who are by definition my subordinates. Shall we abolish grades? No! Shall we do all we can to help children find their worth as a person outside of the achievements that their God-given abilities allow them to accomplish? A thousand times yes!

This process starts when the educator and person who influences children learns to place their worth in the simple fact that they are a unique human being fashioned by the Creator especially for the life they are living. A new motivation emerges when we can value others outside of their accomplishments. What beauty is found when we look for value in the character and individuality of others.

Agree? Disagree? Thoughts? Feel free to comment.


2 thoughts on “On Grade Cards and Locks

  1. I especially like the last line that you wrote.
    What beauty is found when we look for value in the character and individuality of others.

  2. Hi Angie. :)
    First, I love the quote about locks.
    Second, this was especially poignant for me right now, as I have watched my son go from a straight-A student to a barely passing student over the past year and a half. I’ve seen how falling grades have eaten away at his self-worth. We’ve decided that next year we will homeschool – and I hadn’t even thought about grades yet, but this has me thinking about just throwing away grades altogether for at least a little while.
    So…thanks. I needed this today.

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