Doing a Double Take
I had a craving for Nestle Gold Corn Flakes while our helper was watching Eat Bulaga’s Little Miss Urduja contest and what this little girl contestant said struck me, “Mga bata, mag-aral tayo mabuti para makakuha tayo ng mataas na grades (Kids, let’s study well so we’ll get high grades).” Of course, the kid wouldn’t know any better and, of course, that statement must have been taught to her by her parents/guardian. I felt sad, disappointed, and frustrated. Is this how the world works? Are grades the be all and end all?
I grew up a conscientious student. I wasn’t raking medals left and right but I was, what the school can rate as above average. When I was in grade school, although I did get high grades, I didn’t pay much attention to it. I did what I had to do and my parents didn’t push me or pressure me to excel. In high school, the environment was much different. Although it was a public school, my high school gave emphasis to math and science, well, because it was actually a science high school. My classmates were bright, smart kids and the teachers were great, too. Sadly, I felt there was too much emphasis on the grades. Those who got high grades were placed in the “smart” sections. The other kids, albeit smart (perhaps even smarter), who did not very much qualify, occupied the remaining sections. I got the chance to belong to a “smart” section one schoolyear and I hated it. I felt how some of my classmates were pressured to study, and it wasn’t very much to learn but just to pass and get high grades. And they spent every moment studying. I also got a chance to be in an average class and I had one of the best times in my life. The atmosphere was more relaxed and, as much as the students preferred sometimes to have fun than to study, they were bright and they delivered when they had to. Come to think of it, these were the kids who were more well-rounded. They had life outside school. School was not their only life.
In college, there was more pressure than ever. Out of 6,000 or so applicants, only 100+ of us made it. The professors told us we were the creme de la creme (I feel this is an exaggeration). Most of my classmates were valedictorians/salutatorians of their respective schools and the subjects were indeed hard. I still had classmates who were grade-conscious. Too grade-conscious that they would always ask how you fared in your exams and what scores you got. If you got a higher score, they’d feel so sad about their scores. If you got a lower score, they’d be sympathetic. If there’s one thing I learned back in college, it’s to never ever compare yourself to others. You’ll always feel you’re missing something. Best to compete with yourself if it’s competition you’re after.
It’s been more than 10 years since I’ve been in school. I look back and realize that
our world has placed so much attention to grades that we’ve lost what’s truly important. The question is, are we really learning? At 32, the grades I had back then do not matter anymore. It’s what I’ve learned through the years that made me achieve what I had to achieve. It’s also what I’ve learned outside the four corners of the classroom that still ring true up to this day. How many of our country’s top earners were even school dropouts? Getting high grades does not guarantee being successful in life. There’s more to school than just grades. The same way that there’s more to life than just school.
Now that I’m a mom, I promise to teach my kids the things that matter. Not so much as put stress on grades and high scores but to show them the way. Give them backbones. Learning must be fun, or they wouldn’t learn at all. When they’re learning, truly learning, everything else will follow.