May 11, 2016

On Monday, I wrote a piece entitled, ““‘STRAIGHT-A’s’ ARE ONE MEASURE,“ in which I pointed out that there were many other equally valid ways to measure “Success.”

So yesterday it was most exciting to read a truly erudite piece in The New York Times by David Brooks, “Putting Grit in Its Place.”  Here are his initial paragraphs:

“We all know why it exists, but the grade-point average is one of the more destructive elements in American education.

Success is about being passionately good at one or two things, but students who want to get close to that 4.0 have to be prudentially balanced about every subject. In life we want independent thinking and risk-taking, but the G.P.A. system encourages students to be deferential and risk averse, giving their teachers what they want.

 Creative people are good at asking new questions, but the G.P.A. rewards those who can answer other people’s questions. The modern economy rewards those who can think in ways computers can’t, but the G.P.A. rewards people who can grind away at mental tasks they find boring. People are happiest when motivated intrinsically, but the G.P.A. is the mother of all extrinsic motivations.

 The G.P.A. ethos takes spirited children and pushes them to be hard working but complaisant. The G.P.A. mentality means tremendous emphasis has now been placed on grit, the ability to trudge through long stretches of difficulty. Influenced by this culture, schools across America are busy teaching their students to be gritty and to have “character” — by which they mean skills like self-discipline and resilience that contribute to career success.  .  .  . “

 Brooks makes other excellent points throughout his column and I encourage every parent to read it in its entirety.

There is no doubt in my mind that our society’s over-emphasis on “Straight-A’s” is destructive to thought and learning.

More on Monday –  –  –

     — Bill Walton, co-Founder, ITC Learning

      www.itclearning.com/blog/  (Mondays & Wednesdays)

 (This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner, jhbillwalton@gmail.com, an independent consultant.  They do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in a professional or personal capacity.)