Grades Shouldn’t Be More Important Than Learning

Corrin Kauff

Students can relate to one another about panicking over a low grade, yet many have different ideas on what a low grade is. Within our school, students only care and focus about a letter that identifies them falsely, especially the ones pulling all nighters for IB. While good grades are important and should be something every student strives for, they do not necessarily correlate with a student’s intelligence, even though parents and society praise the importance of high grades in school as the only way to succeed. Of course, the educational grading system holds its own significance. Grading students give recognition on what areas need improvement, but it mostly stresses memorization of subjects rather than actually learning them.

Mrs Street, an English teacher at Capital High School mentioned what she has noticed throughout her years of teaching, “Amongst my classes, students who have lower grades tend to know more than the ones who have higher grades. I love teaching, but sometimes I get worried that everyone will lose their passion in learning at some point”.

In 1999, A psychologist named Alfie Kohn did research about the serious consequences grades have on students when their value in learning is diminished. On his website, he states the main three mental effects grades cause such as reducing students’ interest in learning itself, changes of students’ preference for challenging tasks, and the quality of students’ thinking. The first effect mentioning losing the interest of learning, Khon explains ‘once a student is told they’ll need to memorize significant information for a test, it’s more likely studying will become a chore to the student. The second one on the list about grades altering the preference of a student choosing to do a challenging task. Students of all ages who have been led to concentrate and prioritize on getting a good grade are likely to pick the easiest possible assignment or class in order to please themselves and stubborn parents. The last and third reason Kohn listed is that grades also tend to reduce the quality of a student’s thinking. He found out that ‘students given numerical grades were significantly less creative or less thoughtful than those who received qualitative feedback but no grades. The more the task required creative thinking, in fact, the worse the performance of students who knew they were going to be graded.’
School is about getting an education, not overstressing about an insignificant letter on material you’ll end up forgeting. We need to value our knowledge and abilities over a simple letter that we’ve grown dependent on. Rather than trying to memorize material, schools should focus on developing student’s critical thinking and creativity that’ll make learning fun and productive again.