Do academic grades sufficiently represent the quality of education?

I’ll start with a definition of education. It is a process of teaching, training or learning to develop skills and improve knowledge. It can be delivered in formal settings such as schools and universities – or informal settings such as at home or work.

We are much more familiar with formal settings and most schools follow standard grading systems which as with all systems has some drawbacks. These include perceived negative reinforcement which could lead to lower self-esteem in many students and the potential of the grading system to limit performance to quite narrow standards thereby constraining rather than fostering creativity and self-expression.

Many parents are aware of the issues faced by the apparently bright child who struggles with exams and tests in school and despite working hard, struggles to achieve even a ‘B’ grade. The resulting stigma and perception of themselves as failures is painful to behold. Sadly, this tends to be reinforced further by parents who go on to compare with others who find tests much less challenging.

A ‘quality’ educational system is one which facilitates the learning process for the child and there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to it. Whilst some will thrive in very regimented and highly academic settings, some require a more relaxed, flexible and encouraging approach and this includes home-schooling.

We complain about our children’s ‘addiction’ to video games. This is because when they play, they are rewarded for achieving set goals. Thus, they are inspired to do well, and have fun during the process. The current grading systems are likely to be around for a while but we know that low grades affect students negatively. More work done to encourage students in achieving their goals in the classroom would help to improve the quality of education for teachers and students alike. We may need to learn a thing or two from the gaming industry.


Do academic grades sufficiently represent the quality of education?
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