“Check Synergy, I updated grades.” The moment these words are uttered by a teacher, at least six students plunge into their pockets to fetch their phones, all racing to view their trivial scores on an app specifically designed to make us more grade conscious, or in my eyes, knowledge blind.
Instead of valuing the information that is presented during a lecture, most kids push the “meaningless” details through one ear and out the other, never stopping to reflect on how the Berlin Airlift would’ve felt in the shoes of a German child, or how the Kaiser would’ve reacted. They only perk up when they hear the golden words “This will be on your test.” And it’s not their fault.
In this day and age, we are conditioned from the start of our education to place academics and grades above all else, which is effective and ultimately leads us to success. Yet all of this is at the cost of loving school. Some students become so invested in their academic grade, and maintaining their “perfect GPA” they never appreciate what they’re learning.
This becomes especially evident throughout the college application process. UC Berkeley alumni Daniel Coffeen summed up the changing perspective in a speech.
“So rather than living their adolescent lives — lives brimming with desires and vitality, with vim, vigor, and brewing lust — these kids are working at old age homes, cramming for tests, popping Adderall just to make the literal and proverbial grade. And for what? So they can go to a school that puts them in debt for the rest of their lives,” he said. “School has become a great vehicle of capitalism: it quashes the revolution implicit in adolescence while simultaneously fomenting perpetual indebtedness.”
Coffeen touches upon the idea of student loans, as well. Many people don’t see the need to go to six years of university, and incur debt mounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars- all to get a mere $12,000 extra every year.
Even though I myself have striven to maintain high grades, and many consider me the one to freak out over a 91.3%, I wouldn’t mind if I got a B, or a C or anything lower. At the end of the day, no one can make you retain information you don’t want to heed, or participate in six different clubs just because that will “make or break” your college application. Do what is important to you, and when it is important to you.
I see so many people desperately questioning earlier periods, or checking their phones during a test to do better. But then tests have no purpose, you have no true measure of what you know or don’t know. But people don’t seem to care about that, they are only invested in their letter grade. And that is what the education system has become.