Pro Learning: Do it for the Knowledge


Ellie Tomasson, Chief Managing Editor

Every year, students across America participate in the national frenzy to obtain the proverbial holy grail of our education system: the 4.0 GPA, 36 ACT, and 2400 SAT, but at what cost? As students scramble to get the best grades, the emphasis on actual learning takes a fatal blow.

Students engage in the cutthroat competition to snatch the coveted spots at the country’s top universities. In order to ensure matriculation in an ivy league, impeccable grades are not optional. This obsession with “getting the A” necessitates mindless memorization, stressful nights churning out trite english essays, and the occasional breach of academic integrity.

From the moment we walk into school for the first time, our fledgling young minds are bombarded by external expectations from parents, teachers and peers to get good grades to ensure bright futures. Throughout history, the American education system has evolved from a good-intentioned institution that cultivated eager and sanguine young scholars into a factory that manufactures humanoids to be thrown out to the bottom of the capitalistic food chain.

Advocates for grades would argue that are necessary as forms of motivation to succeed as well as standards of evaluation. To address the first point, it is true: grades do provide a form of motivation, but it is not always constructive. Grades can foster unhealthy competition between peers as well as a waning self image. They also can provide a desire to obtain the grade by any means necessary while leaving the ultimate goal of education by the wayside.

Furthermore, grades are not even an objective or consistent measure of skill or intelligence. Due to grade inflation and deflation, the grade scale has been perverted. Grades are no longer consistent, so determining intelligence can be difficult.

Additionally, grades also measure a singular strain of “intelligence.” Some individuals can be condemned on account of their inability to perform well on tests and assignments in a certain subject, when in fact they have the capacity to be wildly successful for using a different skill in a different environment.

School is not about tangible achievements, it is about forming young minds into independent entities. Apologies to the math teachers of the world, but the majority of students are not going to be pulling out the quadratic formula or plotting a logarithmic function on the daily. That being said, I in no way demean the value of their courses. Each class teaches students how to think critically and solve problems for themselves.

While getting caught up in the grade-driven hysteria, students lose sight of their intellectual goals. Your parents can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a fancy diploma, you can get a job, and become a cog in the corporate machine without ever having to think for yourself.

This drone-like allegiance to the intangible pigeonholed standard of success sucks the individualism out of us all leaving only the dregs of the human mind: an inanimate lump of cortex trained only in obtaining superficial needs.

By devaluing knowledge, we dehumanize ourselves. Intellect is what distinguishes us from our other mammalian counterparts.

Knowledge and original thought are paramount. The only person you are harming is yourself when you acquiesce to get dragged along by the ebb and flow of the grade-driven curricula.

Philosophy aside, individual thought does not require finding a solution to global warming, or curing cancer, but the desire to break free from the grasp the omnipresent groupthink that dominates our lives.