Worth no more than the grade

Grades Rhoni McFarlaneBy Jamie Coulson | gargoyle@flagler.edu
Photo by Rhoni McFarlane

After years and years of doing average and barely passing, I’ve developed a low expectation for my grades in mathematics. What does that say about me? I’ve basically given up on myself when it comes to that subject because I know I’ll never be great at it? How pathetic is that … but it’s true.

We cannot count the amount of times we have been disappointed in ourselves. We cannot count the amount of times we received a grade we thought was unfair. And we cannot count the amount of hours we spent on homework or studying and still did not reach the level of achievement we strived for. The problem with our generation, or possibly our entire species, is that we let those things define us as a person. It doesn’t matter how well you play a sport because if you don’t make the grade, you won’t be on the team.

We think we are not worth any more than the D or A we get on results day. We feel as though our grade defines us, molds us, and that’s the confidence level we have when it comes to school and when it comes to success. We have to realize that we failed the assignment, but we aren’t a failed person.

Our education system uses a tactic where rather than inspiring our minds, they fill them. The contradiction is that society wants people who can think for themselves, make smart choices, and ultimately be innovative enough to contribute back to society in the long run. However, for some reason all of the tests we have ever taken ask you to spit answers back that you trained your brain to remember, only to be thrown away to make room for the next batch of info you had to memorize.

For me, math has never been my cup of tea. From third grade when I had to memorize my times tables until now as a sophomore in college still struggling over simple formulas. I’ve studied, I’ve gotten help, I’ve stayed after school, and I’ve given up. The latter of the list is my biggest regret. Imagine if we actually remembered all of the information we ever had to remember, it would be amazing! So why is it so hard for us to remember everything we learned? How come on test day we draw a blank when according to www.scientificamerican.com our brain can hold three million hours’ worth of TV shows.

The problem is self-doubt because we have been down that road before, we know how the grade will turn out, we know that we just didn’t study enough to make an A so instead we settle, we blank, and ultimately we fail.

According to the company Spoken Word, who makes videos for the kids that feel like they are not good enough, it is safe to say that nearly everyone suffers from feeling insufficient when it comes to making the grade. Perhaps this stems from a deeper problem, I know for myself it isn’t a sense of “Oh I failed the assignment,” it is more of “I have failed myself, I have failed as a student.”

So the question is, are we unsuccessful or uneducated? The majority of us certainly are not uneducated, but the majority if not all of us have been unsuccessful. The two seem to tie so closely together and we twist and confuse them. Finals do not prepare us for the biggest test of survival.

But we can’t take the grade too personally, while yes the teacher is right, you probably could have done better. But you didn’t. And that happens not only in school but in life. This is why I hate school, but love education.

Education can set you free, or so they say. But this is the same society that says abortion is wrong but looks down on teenage pregnancy. This is the same government that preaches peace, but endorses war. These are the English teachers who say your stories are not good enough because they are too informal, yet make you study Shakespeare, who was the pioneer of slang.

There are too many unemployed graduates to prove that we are not an undereducated society. We are an underestimated society as in we underestimate ourselves. If we believed in ourselves more, tried harder to be a better person and more striving person whether we passed or failed a test is what will ultimately bring us success. Because even the most finely trained horse will not always win the race.

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