The removal of letter grading is a poignant moment in the evolution of education. Its effect will create a redirection from“getting it done” and “passing,” to an in depth retention and understanding of curiousity and an appetite to learn.
As a straight ‘A’ student in highschool, I struggled as a university student. Granted, it’s been seven years since I graduated highschool, and it was only this past January that I attended my first term at university, so there has been a lot of time and experience since then that has evolved my thinking. But I found that the hardest part about university for me was that there was no space to delve in and retain.
In effect, I had to drop down to two courses half way through the term. Not because I’m not intelligent. Not because I am a slow learner. But because my priorities and values are different. I wasn’t in it to just “get it done,” get that ‘A’ on my transcript, or power out a degree so I could have an educated and secure job.
I was there to digest my mind with the richest material possible, at a place whose institution is to provide a fulfilling resource of food for thought.
Yes to some extent, university is there to provide us with the security that in the end we’ll get a well paid job. It’s that kind of“finish-line” thinking that neglects other matters of importance of being an adult, like simply how to take care of yourself.
The second I would finish reading one assignment, I had to read another. It left me no room to not only ask questions and think thoughtfully about the material, but how was I suppose to balance all that with a healthy lifestyle? Balancing eating properly, exercising, checking in emotionally and mentally with your state of mind, and enjoying the stimulation of social interaction is just as important as an education.
If you can’t learn how to manage that now, you’ll forever keep yourself in the “finish-line” mind set of: I’ll do it when I get to this point.
Education needs to equally balance teaching academic rich material and essential management of life skills.
And I believe that the removal of letter grading is a step in that direction. As an ‘A’ student, I was content. I never asked, “how can I do better?”
As an intelligent 24 year old with no degree, it’s the question I ask myself everyday.