school talk

Much ado about grades

This is the last week of school before we close for a special 2-weeks break  because of the YOG. Both students and lecturers alike are looking forward to the close of semester.

This week, I brought packs of Hello Panda to class. For this week’s tutorial, I was going to return their class test paper which they sat for 2 Saturdays ago.

Me: Ok class, I have presents for the following people. *reads out names of various students* Make a guess – why do you think they are getting a present from me?

The class gets excited and murmurs are heard around.

Girl: I know! *excited* Because they scored “A” for the class test!

I received the same answer in another class.

This got me thinking:

Do students think that they’d only get rewarded for scoring good grades? That’s just soooooo Singaporean, isn’t it? It’s all about GRADES GRADES GRADES.

Another good example is, once I return the class test paper, everyone’s just interested in how many marks they scored, who scored an A, who failed, etc. No one’s actually listening to me going through the answers so that they don’t make the same mistake for the upcoming exams.

When I return project grades, everyone’s eyes glaze over when I go through the learning points. However, their eyes will light up the moment I show them the grade. If it’s anything above B, they’re happy and pat each other on the backs for a job well done. If it’s a C grade or below, they’d start to question why they didn’t score a B or an A despite the fact that I’ve just gone through the entire report explaining why they scored a certain grade. The moment they leave the room, their first question to the previous group is: What grade did you get for your project?

Thinking back, we were the same when we were students. It’s always about how well/badly we have done. Never mind the ‘learning’ outcome.

Is it the fault of the Singapore education system that places a great emphasis on results and grades? The same system that puts you into categories when you are in primary school – are you a ‘band A’ student? or a band ‘C’ student?

So perhaps, I can’t blame the students for thinking that they were going to be rewarded because they scored an “A” for a test.

For the record, I was rewarding students who had 100% attendance and were never late.

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One thought on “Much ado about grades

  1. Haha, this is really funny! The husband recently had a similar experience with his intern, who couldn’t care less when he was going through the “what she’d done well & what she could do better” part, and was only concerned about the final grade that he’d given her!

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