Grades: Our Scarlet Letters?
I find it so interesting the "brand" the grading system puts on each of us. It's as though our grades become our Hester Prynne scarlet letters, brandished on our bosoms as if they mean something. And, unfortunately, they often do mean something - what schools we are accepted to and what jobs we get. It is unfortunate our colleges and employers are not able to see the reality of education - to see how hard we worked, how much we learned, how much we cared to learn. I, unfortunately am the type of student defined by Kottler, Zehn and Kottler (2005) as gifted - I often will "not try anything unless (I) am certain (I) can do it well, and preferably better than anyone else," (p. 41) because I have been brandished by my grades. I am a "suma (in reference to suma cum laude) mama" as my husband calls me. I make A's. Period. And because of this brand, I don't know how to play piano, how to speak spanish, or how to windsurf (all things I would like to do, but am afraid to do because I'm not inherently good at them). I ask all - how can we improve education so grades don't become what they are for me - a scarlet letter.
Kottler, E., Kottler, J., Zehm, S. (2005). On Being A Teacher: The Human Dimension. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.