What do you say to the bored masses that mash away on their cellphones in order to match colors on Bejewel or try to get a higher score on Tetris? Does one approach the puzzle gamer nonchalantly and ask “Why?” or does one just ignore the scene?
This is not an attack on people who have found a way to kill time. But the idea of a video game, where the motivation is to keep playing for a high score, may remind one of school. Does the student who plays Tetris do so in order to get a good score? Does a student read and research in order to get a good grade rather than to learn?
I was talking to a person I just met while taking a psychology class during the summer semester at Laney. She took the class mostly to raise her G.P.A. at Berkeley High. Honestly, I was surprised. She was too, when she learned that I was taking the class out of interest in the subject and for the sake of fun. I would never guess that one would care so much about mere numbers. I tried to comfort her by telling her that despite my good grades, she attended Berkeley High, and I attended humble Skyline High, an Oakland Unified School District public school. She had already one-upped me.
Do grades matter this much? I’ve never believed that getting an A was that big of a deal. I was angry when I receive Bs, but it wasn’t because I thought it didn’t represent my progress in a subject, but rather I was distraught because I didn’t do that great. I didn’t get a high score. I saw my class rank go down. It wasn’t about accessing education, but rather seeing a number go down or not. It didn’t matter what that number alluded to, whether it be U.S. History or Calculus. I could care less about how much I knew about John Locke or whether Sigmund Frued committed psychoanalytical incest. I wanted to see my student stock rocket.
Frankly, I see that I was conditioned to get good grades. In elementary school, it was a competition to see who could pull off consecutive A marks. To get a D would be the ultimate shame, the time when an academic samurai would commit seppuku. Going below a B is much akin to slapping one’s honor with a back hand. It didn’t happen in my group of friends, and even if I left them from elementary to middle to high school I found similar people for whom an A was something that one could use to compare, and to determine who falls on the class rankings.
Nowadays, I try not to care so much about grades, and to do the best I can and to appreciate the education I can get, but one can never escape their selves. I am what society has made me, and society has made me addicted to 100 percents and gold stars. I’m not complaining, the nice SAT score and the good GPA has given me an easier time when applying to colleges. It’s just that, it doesn’t really mean much in terms of education.
Should the process and importance of grades be lowered in importance? Is it an overly liberal thing to say that a school and teachers should evaluate students in a less general way? I believe some sort of progress could be made to stress the importance of an education one cares about. This would necessitate a change for more parent, teacher involvement, or even a change in how one is raised. However, this solution isn’t very realistic, and their are different issues that are being looked at here.
My philosophy teacher at Laney College has said that if one is doing anything one doesn’t like (school) for payment of some sort (credits, grade), then that makes the person a whore. That makes me quite a grade A whore, now doesn’t it?