Grading Degrades Performance LO17478

Srinath Srinivasa (
Fri, 20 Mar 1998 12:18:57 +0530 (IST)

Replying to LO17449 --

There is one more pattern that I have observed. This occurs when students
graduate and plan their careers for themselves. It goes like this--

All through the 16 or so years of school the students would have "aligned"
themselves onto one scale-- that of the grades. There are "good" students
and "bad" students; "bright" ones and "dull" ones according to that scale.
There seems to be one key premise on which students act on-- atleast those
who get good grades. The premise is that all of their actions and
decisions are objectively determined and mapped onto a quantitive scale by
a sacrosanct external entity, whose words are *the* truth.

When they graduate, they suddenly are in a situation where they have to
make their own decisions, and rely on their own judgement. And this causes
a lot of traumatic situations. Whenever students have a difference of
opinion, a consensus can never be reached because neither trusts his or
the other's judgement.

Over time I have managed to filter out two kinds of education that are
very important and are not imparted by schools-- (a). Original thinking
and decision making; it is very important to be able to decide when to
solve our problems ourselves and when to look for existing solutions, and
(b). Dealing with a multidimensional world; all aspects of the world
cannot be mapped onto a single dimensional quantitive scale and measured.
There could be more such issues, but I need to probe further for them.

However, an ideal solution to the problem may not exist. Simply expressing
contempt at the grading mechanism will not make it go away, rather, (as I
have found out the hard way), it makes us unpopular! Teachers everywhere
are faced with the problem of having to select some students over others
for particular tasks. At the level of schools (even in companies), the
selection cannot be left to the students themselves by asking them to
state what is that they can do best. I think the problem has deep roots--
it is not hard to relate the way schooling is done to the present
civilization itself. (Alvin Toffler, in "The Third Wave" provides good

I would be very interested to know if anyone has been addressing the
problem of grading (or Employee Ranking for that matter), from a
fundamental, systemic level.

Warm Wishes


Srinath Srinivasa <>

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