Grades

Occasionally I meet a parent who is panicked because their kid’s getting bad grades in school.  I tell them,

Grades are mostly bullshit.

They don’t measure real knowledge or intelligence or understanding or creativity or anything people really need to be successful.  They don’t measure honesty or courage or kindness or compassion or self-awareness or whether a kid knows the difference between right and wrong or what’s important and what’s not.  More often they measure memory (short-term at that), obedience, conformity, fear of failure, need for approval, or the results of parental coercion.  Thus academic success is not the predictor of success in adult life everyone pretends it is. Einstein, Edison, Newton, Churchill and Steven Speilberg were all bad students. So try not to stress over Johnny’s C in Social Studies. Because grades are mostly bullshit.

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4 responses to “Grades

  • leb105

    this seems right – and bad grades can be the result of….?

    • Steve Hauptman

      Emotional problems, family dysfunction, learning disabilities, adolescent rebellion, nonconformity, a meaningless curriculum, text anxiety and bad teaching. Among other things.

  • Steve Hauptman

    (Forwarded by Steve for Ann:)

    I am a teacher and the task of labeling a student with a number is the worst part of my job. No one is ever happy with the process. High achievers are not high enough, struggling students often give up. Class grades don’t match state assessments, and so forth. I can’t express what really happens in classroom with a number. Who will persist on finishing a task even after getting it wrong the first three times, who is a patient and gentle peer tutor, who will stick up for a victim of a bully, who will take risks in answering questions, who asks those great questions, who had the courage to come and confess after they forged a parent signature on their last progress report. Those are the real A students in my classroom and as much as I tell the students what I feel, the lasting impression is made with that darned number.

  • Steve Hauptman

    “Those are the real A students in my classroom….”

    I wish all teachers saw it this way, Ann.

    And I wish all kids had teachers who did.

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