How Eliminating the Grading System would Improve Education

As a kid, I never did my homework. I sat in class and if I learned anything, it was because I had absorbed the class by osmosis. I hated school, I hated the work they gave me, and I considered myself a prisoner of the institution rather than somebody who was being given a valuable resource. Most of it I regarded as drudgery that was beneath me, and much of it caused me considerable anxiety. So I flat out refused to do the work.

Despite this, I often performed well on tests. The gap between my test scores and my homework grades (generally close to zero) continued to widen. On IQ tests I regularly scored as high as 130, but my grades were deplorable.

Still I continued to learn. I developed a natural skill for English grammar, writing, musical composition and art. I had a rabid obsession with science fiction and would memorize the plot premises and titles of Star Trek episodes, often knowing the character names and personas and histories better than I knew my own family.

Later my family found ways to use brute force to make me do my homework and complete my schooling. I resented them for it, but nevertheless graduated in the top 10% of my class.

It wasn’t until I was in college that I really developed an interest in my own education. I went on to get a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art, Cum Laude. Again, I was at the head of my class.

The worst thing about our present school system is that our educators’ only talent seems to be in making interesting subjects boring. In most elementary schools nowadays, science and math classes are exercises in torture. However, when presented with flair and color, subjects like science and math hold children riveted. PBS programs like Bill Nye the Science Guy, Cyberchase and Fetch! with Ruff Ruff Man transfix children, holding them mesmerized and yet, somehow at the same time keeping them excited and enthusiastic about learning. And they do learn. And there is absolutely no grading involved.