Grading Degrades Performance LO17515

Tom Christoffel (
Mon, 23 Mar 1998 18:49:16 -0500 (EST)

Replying to LO17478 --

Srinath wrote:

>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.

I've read that a student's extra-curricular activities are a better
indicator of future success than grades. It is in the Pep Club, Debate
Team, school newspaper, athletics, etc. that the decision skills Srinath
refers to are developed and tested. In these environments students must
get things done with cooperation and leadership.

After high school, virtually everyone now may go on to college. Those with
good grades, but not extra-curricular, are more and more rewarded by the
rational system of grading. They compete among peers for excellence in an
ever narrowing specialty. The college and university environment rewards
with A's and grade conditioning continues. In writing - rewards are for
long and complex statements with equally complex proofs.

High School it is often is a popularity contest. The advantage many middle
class kids have is that their parents expect them to seek leadership
positions. Those that don't rebel and take that advice get good
experience. When Srinath's the group of peers face one another at their
first job and have differences of opinion, the experienced leader moves
forward. Building that Senior High homecoming float was project

So - a disappointment for students in the real world of work - its that it
is more like high school than college. It is a popularity contest.
Communication triumphs over content. Style over substance. People want to
be judged on an objective basis - merit - they want a grading system that
rates their strengths high - so they can be rewarded for their worth.

Many people, when they move away from the home town high school
environment get a break based on their merit - not held down by the clique
of high school. They might even begin to study leadership and build their
skills. Emmigating is often a way to suceed by getting away from a
limiting culture.

People want to know if they made the grade. If centered, their being is
not degraded by the score. It is taken as data, failure can be a guide to
change - including I'm not suited for this game. Many drop out of the
academic game or find ways to beat it. Most of us, like Rick's story,
have had bad teachers. We've had to trust ourselves rather than the person
in authority. Grading is a tool. It can motivate or wound. How does
wisdom use it?

Remaining objective as we are graded objectively and subjectively, seeing
the bigger picture so we can adapt and move toward the achievement of our
own goals, - is the individual learning and performance challenge. To
thine own self be true. To accomplish this, know thyself. And, prior to
this, one must accept oneself.


p.s. With five line chunks the list has improved in readability. In case
people never checked, in Eudora it is possible to set the screen font and
the print fonts different. I use 14 point Times Roman on screen and
printout, though they need not be the same.

Thomas J. (Tom) Christoffel * e-mail:
My mission: "Regions_Work!" 
Why?  "All markets are regional and the economy is global. Two or more
crossing boundaries to solve a problem is regional cooperation."
*TJCdesigns * Box 1444 * Front Royal, Virginia (VA) 22630-1444 * "True peace
is dynamic. For sustainability, design with re-use in mind." 

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <>