Approaches to our education

Commentary by
CARMINE GERRITY-GEMEI

As class registration approaches, here is an all-too-common conversation when deciding which classes to take:

“Hey, I’m thinking of taking that class. Was it easy?”

“I honestly don’t remember one thing we learned in that class, but yeah it was easy.”

“Cool, I think I’ll take it.”

I have recently thought about how many people decide to take classes from conversations like these. It makes me cringe.

Why is it never, “Hey, I’m thinking of taking that class. What did you learn from it?”
It is not only the students’ fault. It is the culture and ideology surrounding education. Why are so many resentful for needing to go to class and do assignments, rather than grateful for the opportunity to learn more?

In one of my classes, we were going over a test and only got the multiple choice answer sheet back with no questions on it. The professor then read off the letter answers to make sure there were no mistakes in grading. We neither got to see which question we got incorrect nor the correct answer to that question. We will not know which questions we got wrong and will not be able to correct our mistakes in knowledge. But at least we have our grade and the correct letter answers now!

That seems to be all we care about: grades. Not the new knowledge we take away from the course and broadening our horizons, but grades. Grades. Arbitrary letters. Many remember what letter grade they got in a class, but ask them what they learned from that class and they will certainly get an F.

My thoughts on the importance of grades took a major turn when I thought I might stop taking Spanish after the Fall 2013 semester. I realized then that the Spanish I would learn in those future courses would benefit me much more than a slight GPA increase if I decided not to take them.

I am not saying that I am able to have a never-ending motor and craving for knowledge every moment, but I have tried to change my habits and perspective regarding my college education.

Also, I know many students who do value knowledge gained over grades earned. However, from my experiences, I feel the dominant attitude surrounding education emphasizes grades.

What are we paying an astronomical amount for? A piece of paper or knowledge no one can ever take away from us? Just this minor switch in our thought on college classes can totally change our attitude from the importance of grades to the importance of knowledge.

 

March 27, 2015.

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