So you have divorced yourself from social activities, barely had more than four hours of sleep and you need (at least) two cups of coffee before your personality arrives. To you, my SMU comrades currently struggling at this point of the semester – this article is for you.
As we gear up for our finals, please keep in mind that grades are not everything. In every CR, SR and even GSR, I find myself surrounded by peers consumed by the thirst for the bell curve. The number of students who can excel is capped by this arrangement. But does this really equate to those who did not cinch an “A” as incompetent?
Source: Christina Spano
The discussion of collaboration vs competition has long been a talking point among educators, the majority of whom favour the former.
The bell curve creates a toxic environment. Even in the first few weeks of school, cracks of stress start to show in my peers (and myself too). Grasping the various concepts of the module is clearly not enough – we feel the need to outdo our peers in every component of assessment (and yes, that includes class part).
Initially, class part sounded ideal for someone like me – who’s continually teeming with questions, yet fears wasting class time if I do bombard professors with my questions. In fact, seminar-style learning with class participation was one of my primary reasons why I chose to further my education in SMU.
I am frankly disappointed. The bell curve killed the inquisitiveness of questions. Class part swiftly revealed itself to be a competition of who could think quicker and react faster. What’s the worst part? The lack of depth in the answers and disingenuousness of the students can be blatant, and yet not penalised.
Not only does the bell curve affects in-class activities, it influences the choice of modules too. When I entered university, I wanted to choose only the modules I was genuinely interested in, regardless of its difficulty level. However during the recent bidding, I found myself considering the easy way out – to bid for modules that were easy to score.
Fortunately, I had my friends to keep me grounded. They reminded me that grades were not everything. You know what? Four years later, when the day arrives as I stand in line, clad in my graduation attire, I want to be proud of my achievements, to know that I have worked hard (no matter what the outcome may be) on the subjects I wanted to learn.
Society's expectations have imbued negative connotations to grades less than an “A”. Though revolutionary change doesn’t look like it will be occurring anytime soon, we can still overcome this by constantly reminding ourselves not to be swayed by the parochial grading system. Forget that 4.3, and give learning a try.