Grades Oppress Youth

Mar 29, 2015
by: celestecz

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I believe that the youth of today is oppressed. We have stolen from us our freedom of thought. When I was in the 7th grade, we all had to take a standardized mathematics test for possible advanced placement. I had no idea what my score was, but apparently it was high enough to skip pre-algebra. My parents and math teacher talked it over, and decided to move me up a year without my consent.

Now, I hated math. And not only did I hate the class, I hated my Algebra 1 Honors teacher’s style of teaching. I ended the year with a C+ in the class, frighteningly low considering I had always been an A student. I wished with all of my heart I had been allowed to stay in my regular math classes.

High school came and I fared little better. I was assigned to teachers more fitting for my learning style, and my hatred for math dulled. I did, however, find myself becoming more and more apathetic. Teachers never respected my opinions, saying that "you're too young to understand." I was taught that nobody actually cared what ideas and theories were expanding in my brain, all that mattered was I learned what the required curriculum was. Constantly being pushed down by heavy, useless busy work, I stopped learning to learn and started learning for the grade.

High school didn't matter as long as it got me into a good university. I coasted through history, forgetting "important" events the second after finals. In my literature classes I wasn't able to write in the ways and styles I found interesting, and apathy leaked into that environment as well. Science was the only class I was generally still interested in..

Unable to take the classes we're interested in, unable to speak when we feel necessary, unable to dress freely and express ourselves, the public education system has turned from a nurturing center of knowledge into an inescapable system of oppression. Our schedules are planned for us, and we spend our days dreaming of spending thousands of dollars to enter college, dreaming of paying to gain the educational rights we cannot obtain in high school.

I am not the only one who feels this way. I recently watched a Ted Talk protesting modern day education, and what was said really touched me. We come into the world creative and excited to try new things. In pre-school we’re allowed to experiment and play and write and draw whatever is in our little brains. But once we get older, things change. Grades happen.

It’s psychological. We train animals by punishing them when they’re bad, and we’ve started doing the same with humans. A child is given an assignment, and he/she completes his/her interpretation of it. Then, if that interpretation doesn’t mesh with the instructors, they are given a bad grade. That bad grade discourages the child from trying a creative approach, and therefore begins to do exactly as he/she is told.

Thinking outside of the box becomes too big of a risk, and we become robots. We are programed and brainwashed to only follow directions. School turns from a place to grow to a factory for like-minded sheep. We lose creativity, and therefore education produces uncreative adults. Uncreative adults make terrible leaders, and as time goes on we are losing the brilliant, creative minds of the world to the test taking mentality. Modern education is destroying beauty. We need to bring back freedom of thought.


Freedom and choice matter

Mr. Jacobs's picture
Submitted by Mr. Jacobs on Sun, 2015-03-29 14:54.

Impressively written. You show how education works when freedom and choice are taken away.

I was always an out-of-the-box thinker when I was a kid and it got me in trouble too.

Now that I am a teacher, I try to use kids own ideas to motivate them. But I also have a lot of rules and regulations put on me to teach a certain way.

Hopefully by the time kids are paying for their education, they have found subjects and teachers that help them learn well.

I love this topic that you

Submitted by Sarah Kranz on Tue, 2015-03-31 14:11.

I love this topic that you brought up. I, myself, have experienced a similar situation as you my sophomore year of high school. Since then, I have not been a fan of math either and found it difficult, especially during my sophomore year. The freedom of thought that you brought up is very inspiring and I believe that it does need to be brought back. Nice post!

I really enjoyed your

Submitted by JesusSalazar on Tue, 2015-03-31 14:14.

I really enjoyed your thoughts on this issue and I can defiantly relate to some of the things that you said. I completely agree that High School has become a place where students are really only focused on using it as a tool to get in to a good college. Personally I have also completely forgot everything that I learned during the semester the second that finals were over. I look forward to seeing what you write in the future because you have great a great insight into this overlooked topic.

Pressure from School

Submitted by mikekearns on Tue, 2015-03-31 16:32.

This is a great topic that you wrote about and it is great to see other students standing up for this issue. I agree with you that the modern day education system has changed. The pressure for students to get good grades has risen and it is now way too high. As a high school senior I have experienced this and seen others go through it. Standardized testing like the SAT and the ACT have become so important in being able to go to good college. Sadly it is affecting everyone and the way approach learning. Not to mention I think parents even add a lot of pressure on students, if not more than the grades do. Something needs to be done to fix this issue.

Interesting post! I can

AllisonWitte's picture
Submitted by AllisonWitte on Tue, 2015-03-31 16:38.

Interesting post! I can relate to a lot of the things you said. High school seems to be all about trying to become the perfect candidate for college, and less about learning. I sometimes feel that my teachers only care that I have good grades, not that I am gaining knowledge. I think grades are a good thing, I know I personally would be less motivated if there were no standards or marks to reach for, but I think you bring up really good points about bringing freedom and beauty back to the education system.

What Would We Do Without Structure?

Submitted by JimBestDev on Tue, 2015-03-31 16:41.

Thank you for writing this post! Education is a very important topic, especially in the lives of those who are going through school and I know there are many people who share your opinions. While I agree that some aspects of school decrease the freedom of expression many want and force us away from a path that we truely want to pursue in terms of what we want to learn, the restricitions on what people want are necessary evils. Would all students pursue studies and make progress in learning if they were not given curriculums and grades? Would students get a well rounded education if it weren't for courses we are made to take, but could find that we truly love? I do agree that there are changes hat need to be made, but we shouldn't throw out the entire system. Some of it needs to be there.

You have great key points in

Submitted by k_larson on Tue, 2015-03-31 21:00.

You have great key points in your post! I think its great how you started off giving your experience of education and going into more of a general discussion. I agree that our education system today is different than it used to be. Students are only learning for the grades and not learning to gain new knowledge. Its disheartening to think about. I think you should research more into this topic. Find out statistics, and interview other students with the same and differing opinion as yours! I look forward to reading more of your posts!

Celeste, I love this post

Submitted by lillybinns on Wed, 2015-04-01 15:14.

I love this post you've written. I very much agree with all the viewpoints you've made, and would say that our education system is very corrupt. I moved to Utah from London, England, and was very surprised by the difference in schooling. Over there they care a lot more about what it is you're really interested in, and you can choose to specialize in a certain subject when you begin high school instead of having to take classes that you have no interest in pursuing or aren't very good at. Grades often bring down the mentality of otherwise very intellectual teenagers, who may think they're "stupid" because they're receiving a bad grade in a class they simply have no interest in. It's like telling two animals to climb the same tree to make a test fair, and having one animal be a monkey and one be a fish. Individuals simply have different skills that can't be evaluated by a letter grade.
Overall this was a very informative and well thought out post, thank you, it was a good read!

Wow! This was a really good

Submitted by OliviaBithell on Wed, 2015-04-01 20:19.

Wow! This was a really good post. I too feel that the grade is more important than understanding nowadays. Students can easily get an "A" on an assignment without having a clue what the lesson was behind the assignment. Students can not express themselves in class, if a student has a different view point than the teacher getting an "A" is much harder. As long as students say or write what the teacher wants to hear or read their chance of getting an "A" has increased drastically. Something interesting that you could look into would be different types of schooling, for example the schools in Japan or Finland (both ranked in the top five in the overall educational index as of 2014) and compare them to the United States (ranked 14), as well as compare the schools in Indonesia (ranked 40.

Nice post!

Submitted by MirandaJones on Mon, 2015-04-06 12:48.

This was a very well written post! I agree that sometimes school becomes monotonous. Maybe a possible topic for further research and thought would be possible solutions. Try to think of some alternatives to the current system that maintain learning yet avoid this so called "oppression." Overall, I thought this was a fantastic post and I look forward to reading more from you!

Wow. You wrote very

Submitted by NikkiJam1 on Tue, 2015-04-07 20:55.

Wow. You wrote very eloquently. I have to say I agree with your opinion on our modern education system especially from elementary to high school. Grades stress kids out and often to the point that they will cheat and not actually learn anything. Students need to learn. There is no point in the grading scale except for the education system and government to say "Oh look, our kids are actually learning something because they did well on a test!" Yes, but they most likely will forget the information in a matter of days. There needs to be a system where kids will retain information more. Explore ways that retention methods can be implemented into our education system.

Your Argument Against Grades

Submitted by Cholyoak on Fri, 2015-04-10 16:44.

Hi Celeste! I found your discussion about how grades stifle kids to be quite interesting. I agree with you that after kindergarten, school starts being less and less about stimulating children's creativity and imagination and instead focuses more on performance. I also think that to some degree, an overemphasis on grades does hamper a child's ability to learn for the sake of gaining new information. However, I am not sure that grades are the sole reason that kids may be stifled. I feel that to some extent, the societal pressures on teenagers to get good grades and be successful goes beyond just the grading system. I think some of this pressure comes from our own societal values, such as rugged individualism and hard work. I also think that the structure of our school system can add pressure. What sorts of solutions would you propose to re-stimulate children's creativity and imagination? I am interested to hear what you think!

Great Job!

Submitted by ElyseJones on Sun, 2015-04-12 14:14.

This topic is so interesting. I myself have pondered this question of the oppressive system of grades. I think that the way we instill students to be afraid of the grading system in turn makes them afraid to learn. One thing I would say to improve this piece would be to read through the opening paragraph again because in parts it is a little bit confusing and hard to follow.

Enjoyed Reading

Submitted by jsphstokes on Sun, 2015-04-12 15:05.

You tied in your own experience with the argument very well. The examples you used made your argument more immediate and accessible, and it was easy to read. I think your argument would be strengthened if you included more examples of where creativity was directly shut down by grades, as opposed to grades simply causing apathy. Also, as a few people mentioned in the comments section, it would help if you included suggestions for judging people's effort outside of the standard grading scale. In general, your post was thought out, well written, and clearly supported. Thanks for taking the time to write it.

I thought you wrote a very

Submitted by Fran Botto on Sun, 2015-04-12 20:13.

I thought you wrote a very interesting piece that is also very relatable to your audience of readers. I think almost all high school students, including myself, have felt discouraged and oppressed when it comes to grades. Its actually kind of sad to think that school doesn't seem like its about learning anymore but rather passing classes with letters which then lead you to college. The world is not black and white or concrete, its an abstract place and more often the not it needs creativity and inventiveness to solve its problems. I look forward to see what else you write.

I really enjoyed reading this

Submitted by mravarino on Sun, 2015-04-12 22:44.

I really enjoyed reading this post, and let me tell you, you are not alone. School has a weird way of making you hate the things you thought you once loved. It is important to remember why you are there: to get an education. Grades do discourage children. They label you as superior or inferior when every child is superior in their own way. Something needs to change so students stop feeling this way.

Interesting Argument

Submitted by hrodgers on Mon, 2015-04-13 01:17.

I really liked how well thought out and well written your argument was, clearly you have thought a lot about the topic and it is something that truly matters to you. I largely agree with what you say and understand the arguments you are making. Certain aspects of a high-school education encourage certain behaviors that don't lead to learning, and I myself have been a victim of that mentality of getting the grade and not really learning everything. At the same time, a lot of the curriculum in high-school is generally speaking, basic. It is a broad education that hopes to make us all somewhat well-rounded, and like you said college is the the place to pursue true passions and curiosities. While I understand your argument, I would ask, what would you change? How can you make well-rounded students and still have them intellectually curious and engaged? I look forward to seeing more from you.

I think this is a very

Submitted by Clairecook on Thu, 2015-04-16 21:59.

I think this is a very intuitive point of view that as a student I have never even thought about. I do agree with you in that I believe a lot of schools of today force kids to only worry about a grade and the passing of the class rather then the enjoyment of learning. I love to learn about new topics and broaden my brain, but at school I do feel stressed and that I can't fully take in all the aspects of learning and new information because I only retain information that will keep my grade from plummeting.