We have all slaved though years of schooling, years of hard work, years of stressful examinations… all for a little piece of paper validating such hard work. Hours are spent behind computers, researching information, writing essays and working equations to achieve what every student strives for: a good grade. We are taught to memorize and memorize and memorize until that is all we are good at. Our short term memory is exercised so often that the part of our brain that is used for retention, is left unworked.
These days, it’s commonly known that every student stresses about grades. We have all had that feeling that bubbles in our stomach just before getting a paper or exam back. The red ink that’s stained the page in front of you could decide your fate in a unit, fate in a semester, or fate in your career. Those daunting black letters are the singular items that have the power to decide our futures.
And that is all we have been taught to care about. Letters.
Last year, a video rose to the surface of many social media platforms of college level students being interviewed around campuses. These students were asked random questions about our United States history. The basis of the video was to arouse humor from the embarrassment of these college students who didn’t know basic questions about our nation’s history. The questions were so simple to where, when asked, the audience viewing the video would presumably laugh and say things like, ‘oh that’s so simple’ and ‘how could they possible not know’ and even ‘that’s ridiculous’.
To get in to college here in the U.S., it is required to have taken and passed four years of history in high school, along with four years of math, science and English. Every student in college has, at one time in their life, been given information about such topics, learned/memorized the information and were tested on their knowledge of that information. When they passed, it was assumed that they would remember it all, or most of it. Back then, when they were being tested over the information, yes they probably would have known the answer, however, since no stress is put on the retention of crucial information about our country, or any topic in school for that matter, we forget it. How? So much pressure is put on letter grades that we study the information, memorize it until we can recall it word for word, take the test, and forget every ounce of it.
Our education system is so very flawed, wrong even. So much stress and pressure are put on students achieving a letter grade that, that is all they strive for. They strive to achieve this validation from a display of a temporary demonstration of their knowledge, instead of trying and challenging themselves to remember the information. We pay thousands and thousands of dollars a year for the young to learn more and more when really, they are being taught and simply not retaining anything.
Teachers, educators, students, learners: I urge you to be educated. We all go through years and years of schooling and some of us only come out of it with a couple pieces of paper to show for it, instead of a brain full of knowledge. We even pay for a better education in universities and private institutions, so why not strive beyond an A? Go farther past any letter could get you. Demonstrate your ability to retain information and display your valuable knowledge.
Intelligence is valued far beyond any letter grade.
em> Previously published on The Odyssey.