Wow, I love that phrase – it just came to me writing my last post and it was a beautiful lyric. It captures what schools are today – places where you go to get grades, places where grades are made. You get grades as a form of currency – currency to buy into the next class, the next level, the next school.
But, alas, grades do not tell us much, certainly not what they purport to. Grades, having been turned into currency – the “grail” of education, no, let’s say of “school” and keep “education” as something good – having been turned into currency are now all that a student goes to school for. We’ve made the system into nothing more than a “standards fest”, on the mistaken premise that grades and testing measure learning. Now it’s just grades that matter – good grades mean high standards, goes the thinking. So we have students seeking good grades as an end in itself (“learning” is no longer the end being pursued). And they’ll do whatever they have to to get the grades – cheat, steal, take drugs, copy… it doesn’t matter, only the grade matters. It’s a game. We have teachers only teaching what’s going to be on the test, or if they choose to “teach” something that’s not going to be on the test they tell the students – as if to suggest “yeah, this is maybe interesting, but you can tune-out” since I won’t be asking you about it. This happens- all the time.