In elementary school, kids are excited about learning.
The classrooms are full of energy and smiles, and the most often asked question is “why?” because the kids are genuinely interested in what is being presented to them. But as they grow older and reach middle school and high school, the atmosphere changes—and their mindset with it. Kids generally lose interest in what they’re learning, and become interested in only the resulting grade. And that’s the question: as students’ school careers progress, why is a student’s desire to learn gradually lost? What I don’t understand is why grades matter so much. Seriously—what does a letter say about somebody? This is what school has turned into; not, “what am I learning?” but, “what letter is on my report card?” When kids are taught that the grade is what matters, that’s what the classes become centered around. And that’s the irony of it—if you crammed the entire alphabet onto a student’s report card, it still would not show anything about whom they are or what they’ve learned.
Grades begin to make learning a chore, because students always have the burden of “getting a good grade” hovering over them. Part of the problem is also the dwindling connection between students and teachers and the voice students are allowed or not allowed to have. “Everything we know about kids says that when they don’t have a say [in things] they don’t see a purpose,” said language arts and journalism teacher Marc Biunno. “And when they don’t see a purpose they become disconnected, and when they become disconnected, they lose interest in what they’re doing.” What is the purpose of education to begin with? Is it piling students with pointless assignments because that will somehow magically teach them time management, or is it to help students grow academically and as a person? People forget what education is really about.
I think that as the demand for a better education continues to increase, so does the undue pressure on kids, causing them to lose their desire to keep learning.