Building an Authentic Community of Practice


#1 The System of Grading

Growing up in an African and Jamaican household, grades were a huge impact on how I was treated and rewarded. If I managed good grades, I was basically given whatever I wanted; shopping on the weekends, my favorite meal for dinner, or bragged about to extended family. Because of the positive reaction my parents gave me, I always tried my best to be at the top of my class and grew a fear of just the mere thought of a mediocre grade. Due to this being my mindset since elementary school, I developed a hyper fixation on academic validation. If I got less than an 85 in a class I would feel worthless, lazy, and ashamed. Anxiety would overtake me and I would literally shut down. It wasn’t about academic growth for me, it was about the reaction of my parents. Skipping forward to now, I don’t see learning as fun or enjoyable. It’s just something I do because I know that realistically without a degree (in this economy) there is a slim chance of me being financially free. Unfortunately, I still struggle to find a passion for any work field because the fun was sucked out of every subject in school for me. In my opinion, an educational system without grades would boost creativity and critical thinking skills, Students would learn not out of obligation, but because they genuinely want to gain knowledge and understanding. Academic culture would be much more healthy.

1 Comment

  1. Christina, it’s so good to hear from you! I love your direct and clear style of expression through writing. I think what you express about grades and your lack of motivation for learning is so common. I really appreciate how you bring in your personal history about how being rewarded for getting good grades always depended on the external validation of your parents (e.g. material rewards, the expression of pride, meals, etc). Whereas the passion for learning (or anything really) needs to come from within in order to feel fulfilling. I think it’s a travesty that the system of grading and schooling kills our natural curiosity to learn about the world around us. I agree with your idea that a world without grades would boost creativity and critical thinking! I’m am so intrigued by your statement: “I still struggle to find a passion for any work field because the fun was sucked out of every subject in school for me”. It makes me wonder about what subjects or interests you’re naturally drawn to. What do you like to think about for fun? What is something that intrigues you or that you want to learn more about? It could be anything. Feel free to reply to this post or tell me next time you see me! I understand that schooling feels repressive for you because of your experiences but I hope you take the opportunity to re-engage even if it’s just in an attempt to figure out your interests or to explore new ideas.