I Hate School!

If one were to listen in on a typical conversation between high school or college students there is a very good chance that the topic of disliking school or the work involved with going school will be mentioned. I am not writing this blog to argue that school is a bad idea, quite the opposite in fact. I think that today’s system for evaluating students through grades is extremely flawed. The point of going to school is about learning, not obtaining grades. Often students simply do the bare minimum to get by so that they can post the GPA that they “need” to get into college or get the job they want. This can lead to students cramming to finish projects/papers/study at the last minute. And when students cram they often to not actually learn the information. The competition for grades can also lead to cheating. Grades also are a distinct way or measuring people and there are people in the world who do not think and work the same as the majority. Therefore, these students whose minds do not work the same way are heavily penalized by the grades, affecting the entirety of their lives.


Yet, there is a reason that nearly every school in the nation uses a system based off grades. There are a few things that grades help accomplish that are quite necessary. In my opinion the top two reasons why grades have been deemed necessary are because; grades provide the basis for differentiating students and poor grades provide incentive for students to try harder. Here is an article arguing why grades are a necessary evil.

I would argue for a system based off of self-evaluation. This would be similar to a pass/fail system. Where at the end of the class the student would prepare for a meeting with his professor or a board of professors to present the important things they learned throughout the semester. They would talk about the most important take aways and what they enjoyed learning about the most. I know that there are schools such as Yale Law who do not grade their students and there have been positive results to these experiments. Personally, my favorite class I have ever taken as a student was while I was abroad and grades played almost no part in the class. But, I did all of my work and more because I was interested in the material and felt a responsibility and connection to my teacher and the class. I simply believe that grades are not the motivation that children/students need to try and improve themselves as human beings and prepare themselves for the world.


5 comments on “I Hate School!

  1. Wow, cool idea. In high school, I’m not sure a no- grade system could’ve kept me on track, but I think the game fundamentally changes in college. With the presence of deep, intrinsic motivation to learn, students are more likely to fully apply themselves to what they do.
    This semester at Bucknell, I applied to take quite a few credits was not approved by the administration. The reasoning was primarily my GPA. I was frustrated by the arms- length analysis of my abilities as a student. I guess it worked out; I’m taking all the classes I wanted to, but not getting the course credit.

  2. I think that grades do induce doing the bare minimum. I think its funny good grades don’t necessarily mean you know the material. Most of the tests I take, I find myself cramming the night before, and don’t even think most of it makes it to my long term memory…I think that a it is better to have an evaluation at the end with the teacher one on one, where you must perform task or answer problems that prove you’ve done the actual learning.

  3. I think another way to help the “I hate school” mentality is to give students more flexibility in choosing courses that interest them, at least at the college level. I personally find that I try harder and go the extra mile in classes where I have a particular interest and am more likely to cram for classes that I don’t like.

  4. Another idea for incremental change in this area. Something like 1/4 of your classes are required to be pass/fail. This would enable people interested in “hard’ subiects for them, math for poets, poetry for engineers, to take classes for learning.

    Not quite the same, but it may help in the pressure for grades that fuels grade inflation, is to always report the distribution along with the grade.

    Also, having qualitative presentations or projects like you describe, what is called authentic assessment, is a good idea. The thing about Yale or Bucknell doing that is that we already have a pre-selected population of good learners. In other words, we can do something like that because the k-12 system is so grade-based. If there were no grades, how would Bucknell select students?

  5. Pingback: Initial Reaction | Stakeholder Organizations 11

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