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Andrew Hecht

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Should public schools in the United States eliminate the traditional A to F grading scale? And if so, what assessment do we replace it with?

In 5 months, at the age of 21, I will be graduating college from the University of Florida. Yet, it wasn't until recently that I began to realize how distorted my view of education has been for past 15 years of my life. From childhood, we are commonly "taught" (and indoctrinated) that when we receive "good grades", we are "good people" and "good students." Consequently, beginning around kindergarten, a child's self worth is defined on an "A" to "F" scale. From the perspective of a child, an "A" student is "good" and an "F" student is "bad".

This belief entirely distorts the real purpose of education. We are commonly driven to learn not for the sake of learning; but instead, we are motivated by the almighty grade. Growing up, rather than reading books for fun or curiosity, I commonly read only those books that were assigned. Rather than exploring new concepts, I stayed on the designated curriculum and track. And rather than creating new ideas after school, I completed my homework. By high school, my GPA became somewhat of a false deity, a barometer of self worth, and a ticket to future success. Sadly, a large number of my "academically successful" peers had an even more distorted view of education than I. In high school, I often saw students copying each others homework before class as a means to manipulate the system. School was not about learning, it was about recieiving high grades. In college, this same manipulation manifests itself every time I hear a student say "I'm not taking Professor X's class because it's hard and I need an "A" for grad/law/med school."

Moreover, not only does the "A" to "F" scale seem flawed but the standards we measure as well. Commonly, in public schools we measure math, science, and reading but deny the students who excel in dance, singing, painting, building, and poetry the self worth of receiving an "A" in their area of expertise.

Should pub. schools in the US eliminate the traditional A to F grading scale? Is there a better way?

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  • Jan 8 2012: (I know i have alot to say just bear with me =)
    I personally believe that the only way that education would work for the best interest of the students is through an upheavel in the whole system of teaching not just the "almighty" grade as you put it but even the way teachers taught their class letting the children choose the classes they wish to attend and the lessons they wish to learn.

    The way I see it is that the only way that children can really learn is by being taught how to be critical thinkers at a young age if this sense of questioning everything and holding no assumptions about preconceived ideas then we would not have the problems we do now what with gun and knife crime so (supposdely) prevalent and a population of youths so disenchanted with the current way things are turning out no wonder school is a nasty place to be no wonder they all just wish to escape I know i did.

    Instead letting them grow by nourishing their minds, making school a adventure a fun place to be if teachers showed experiments let their imaginations run free then the generations of thinkers that came before could have their dreams accomplished a free land independant of rules , laws and regulations a land where are all equal. =)

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