Sunday, April 06, 2008

Curious about Grades: Are They Necessary? Have They Affected You and Your Life and/or Career?

The definition of a grade is a letter, number, or other symbol indicating the relative quality of a student's work in a course, examination, or special assignment; mark.

How do you react to and/or handle being graded?

This was brought to my attention this past week. As most of you know, if you have been reading this blog in the past, I teach twelve group fitness classes a week. I received a phone call that I was going to be evaluated by the representative from the organization that sponsors one of the groups I teach.

Not remembering how picky this evaluator can be, I was excited because I am so proud of the progress this group of Seniors has made during the past year. They are terrific. We have fun while we are working hard. And, I want to clarify that I have spent a good bit of time keeping up with the latest fitness trends and discoveries, including those pertaining to Seniors.

I feel that we all want to receive good grades. I know that I do! When I read the evaluation and got to the total number grade, I was unhappy. Per usual, she looked for the small, perceived wrongs and was even critical about how hard everyone was working – too much cardio and resistance repetitions. I have rationalized that she was just doing her job and giving the company what they want.

I have even had evaluators tell me that they would like to give higher scores, but their companies would send them back, feeling they had been too lenient.

Back when my children were in school, we held PTA meetings to discuss whether or not grades were necessary. How do you feel about this? Would you have worked as hard if there weren’t grades? How important are they?

Let’s see what the experts have to say about grades:
  • I abhor grades - if a child does his best, that's all that should be asked.” - Richard Dawson, English actor
  • I was told that I had to give grades to the students, which I wasn't particularly interested in doing.” - Merce Cunningham, American dancer
  • What makes a child gifted and talented may not always be good grades in school, but a different way of looking at the world and learning.” - Chuck Grassley, American politician
  • I was not an outstanding student. I did a reasonable amount of work. I got generally good - pretty good grades, but I was not that passionate about getting straight A's.” - Steve Case, American businessman
  • Grades are almost completely relative, in effect ranking students relative to others in their class. Thus extra achievement by one student not only raises his position, but in effect lowers the position of others.” - James S. Coleman, American sociologist
  • I feel that education needs an overhaul - courses are obsolete and grades are on the way out.” - Kent McCord, American actor

We’ll add a bit of humor:

  • But there are advantages to being elected President. The day after I was elected, I had my high school grades classified Top Secret.” - Ronald Reagan, American President
  • I'd like to say I was smart enough to finish six grades in five years, but I think perhaps the teacher was just glad to get rid of me.” - Alan Shepard, American astronaut

I can really relate to the following quotation:

You know, I went to Oberlin. At that time, grades were - you elected to have them or not. It was all of that era where grades were out the window. But I did very well in school. I didn't really study the arts; I practiced the arts.” - Julie Taymor, American director

Do send me your feedback. I would love to hear how you feel about grades – even later in life.