I have a weird take on exams. I’m never satisfied with the results.
I don’t mean what grades we get. I mean what those grades tell me. I’ve never been convinced they tell me anything particular; never believed they necessarily tell me about intelligence.
They tell me that someone has particular skills – skills for passing exams. But I equally applaud the skills of rock climbing, skate boarding or raising kids none of which require grades to do it well. You need far more than grades to convince me of intelligence.
People like to use grades to label themselves as superior. And society likes to compartmentalise those without as inferior. That’s completely warped.
People are not better people for having grades. And that’s what really counts. You can be a good person without grades – grades do not define us.
What defines us is how we think and act. How we care. How we take responsibility. How we engender respect in the activities we do. Respect for each other. Respect for the world that supports us. Respect for purposeful work (paid or unpaid).
Those are the things that define us. But you can’t measure those with grades and society seems obsessed with measuring. With statistics. With box ticking and hoop jumping.
Yet the things that make a person good cannot be fitted into boxes. Did Einstein fit boxes? Did Ghandi? Did Beatrix Potter? Did Jamie Oliver? They all brought different kinds of goodness to this world but they didn’t tick boxes. They brought goodness by consistent ongoing activity, by the things they did, not the grades they were measured by.
In a few years time your grades will mean nothing. I know folks uphold that without them they wouldn’t have got where they are (higher education perhaps, higher salary). But actually, we’ll never know that will we? And people are achieving and becoming successful without them. (Jamie Oliver for one).
Grades mean so little against an interpretation of life through goodness. We shouldn’t let them define us or our future. We all, always, have the opportunity to do something great – however small – for which we will be remembered long after anyone is even bothered about our grades.
Let’s not educate for grades any more. Let’s educate for goodness. We are more to the world as goodness than as results.