When all you can remember is “eggfruit,” fake the grade

The Southerner

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By Bailey Kish

I consider myself to a fairly intelligent person. I can grasp most subjects in class, and I actually enjoy school on many occasions. Pretty normal, but for the fact that in my 15 years on earth, I have:

-Referred to an Eggplant as an “Eggfruit”
-Crashed my bike into a trash can at high speed because I “didn’t see it”
-Misspelled my name on official documents
-Gotten lost in Piedmont Park
-Burned my hand by deliberately poking a boiling pot
-Lost my phone in the trunk of my dad’s car
-Realized, at a soccer game in North Georgia, that I left my cleats at home, and
-Missed an open door and walked into a doorframe.

Now, it would be easy to brush this all off as things I did when I was very young, if not for the fact that all of these events have occurred in the last three years. This raises some interesting questions, particularly whether or not I am even vaguely intelligent. And, frankly, if I can be stupid to do all this and more, all while consistently receiving A’s, then what kind of grading system do we have anyway?

I remember the moment, freshman year, when my advisement class got our first transcripts. Immediately, almost everyone’s attention was drawn to the “Class Rank” section (mostly because, as first semester freshman, our transcripts had nothing else on them). In a grade of almost 300 students, people around me were either calling out their ranks, triumphant in victory, or sitting silently, waiting to be asked what theirs was. This continued all day. I was in the top 15 percent of my grade, and yet I still felt stupid. Why wasn’t I higher? Was I too lazy? (probably.) Was it the teacher’s fault? (no.) Was I too stupid? (possibly.)

I had been told so many times that everything matters, that I couldn’t afford to make mistakes. As we all know, if you don’t do that homework assignment, your grade will go down. If your grade goes down, you get a bad grade in the class. Naturally, if you get a bad grade in the class, you won’t be able to take advanced classes next year. Obviously, if you don’t take advanced classes, you won’t get into a “good college.” If you don’t get into a good college, start working out, because you will do nothing but menial labor for the rest of your life, as a college education is what separates us from the animals.

As such, we have effectively turned our grading system into a religion. Our profession of faith is “Will this be on the test?” We worry about whether or not our actions are good enough to get us to the ivory tower in the sky, the all-powerful college. We attend the temple of this religion five times a week. We ask the priests for help if we think we’re not good enough. And, above all, we really don’t know if there’s a reward waiting for us. I don’t know about everyone else, but I feel a bit uncomfortable worshiping at the feet of our teachers. And, if you’re anything like me, you’ve had quite a few teachers (or, in this example, vengeful priests) with some interesting ideas on what constituted an acceptable grading policy.

So, what if, (and here comes the blasphemy) grades aren’t important? What if we have better things to do? Why should you spend your time worrying about how a teacher will evaluate your work (and, by extension, self-worth)? Now, I’m not saying that you should fail every class to prove a point, but maybe, just maybe, if the only reason you want good grades is to satisfy some need, whether it’s your self esteem, your parent’s rules, or just to get into a “good college,” you should re-evaluate why you are pushing yourself so hard for a letter on paper. Don’t think of grades as a result. Think of grades as means to an end.That one class you got a C in matters so little in the grand scheme of things that obsessing over it has only two results: shame and premature ulcers.

Like it or not, grades are here to stay. The sun will rise and set, the tide will go in and out, and students will worry about grades. But maybe we can pay more attention to the sunrise than our test scores.

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