Why We Should Have No Grades in School

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Grades; who needs grades?
People often look at grades as a way to judge how a student is doing. If the student is getting a high mark then he or she is understanding and obtaining the knowledge of the class. On the other hand, if he or she is getting a low mark he or she is not applying his or herself or possibly being flat out lazy. However this is not always the case. Unfortunately the educational system puts an abundant amount of weight on a grade, so it is stressed that the grade received determines how smart the student is. The system is teaching the student that it is not about the knowledge that is retained from the class; instead it is about doing everything possible to achieve the highest possible grade. The quest to just achieve the highest grade possible actually takes away from the quality of learning by not giving the student any reason to retain the knowledge, but instead to only “cram” and get that A. Therefore grades should be abolished because the grades put an obscene amount of stress on the student, encourage the student to take the easiest educational route and take away from the wealth of knowledge a student should be obtaining.

From the first day of school a student is taught that A’s are great, B’s are good, and anything lower is simply unacceptable. This concept of grades is drilled into the student at a young age because a young mind is more willing to please. With the concept that a high mark will please everyone around him or her, the student will strive for nothing but that mark no matter what the cost. A student will sit down with a textbook and cram for a test for hours before the exam. By stuffing as much information as possible into a short amount of time is not only going to cause the student to forget the majority of the information, but also cause a massive amount of stress on the mind. By overloading the mind with a massive amount of information and causing the mind to focus for such long time only puts the student in a negative situation. After a session of cramming for an exam the mind is already at the breaking point. Then the student goes into class to complete the exam and the mind franticly scrambles for all the information that was stuffed in the night before. When the mind begins to scramble through the endless information the student begins to feel anxious and stressed. When he or she becomes stressed the focus is then taken off the test and the mind starts thinking about what the result of the exam will be instead of focusing on the exam itself.

Not only does a student have the stress of exams upon him or her but the student is also drilled with the fact that if he or she does not make the grade a university will never accept the student’s application. Then the student is told that if he or she can’t get into some sort of higher educational system the student will never amount to anything. That fact alone continuously haunts a student. So day after day the student dreads the day when the report card goes out. Gatto clearly states that “The lesson of report cards, grades, and tests is that children should not trust themselves or their parents but should instead rely on the evaluation of certified officials” (Gatto, 178) If the student sees the report as a way to judge his or her own self worth instead of trusting him or herself and the knowledge that they are obtaining then the student will never become confident in his or herself. When a student has no confidence of his or her self then the student continuously stresses to please the certified officials that seem to hold the student’s future in the palm of their hands.

When the goal is simply to get the best grade possible a student tends to pick the less challenging task in order to be successful. Kohn makes a very good point when he states “The more pressure to get an A, the less inclination to truly challenge oneself. Thus, students who cut corners may not be lazy so much as rational; they are adapting to an...
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