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.

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June 6, 2008. General.

8 Comments

  1. the husband replied:

    Galing! I couldn’t have said it better myself. Really! Because I’d speak so fast and stutter so much you won’t get anything. πŸ™‚
    When I was a college freshman, our school experimented putting freshmen with high grades into one section (or block as they call it). Unfortunately, I was included in this block. On our first day, our teacher cum adviser asked all the valedictorians, salutatorians, and honorable mentions to stand up. Of the sixty people in our block, only around ten of us remained seated. How embarrassing is that! For them! hehe Needless to say, it was no fun.
    Good thinking! Teach Zoe to have backbones, to have real roots, for the real life.

  2. baduday replied:

    Thanks TheHusband! I just needed to say my piece because that thought has been bugging me for such a long time. Hindi talaga ako sang-ayon eh : )

  3. k.g. replied:

    Well said! You know, when Wendy became valedictorian of her batch, I was of course very proud. I told her that it was a big accomplishment. However, I didn’t overemphasize its importance because, although it was abig accomplishment, it is not everything she should strive to be. Sa akin, basta she grow to be good, obedient, God-fearing, and responsible, kahit minus the valedictorian award, okay na okay na sa akin.
    As I’ve mentioned in my blog, I’ve also never been a grade-conscious student. Pumasa lang ako, okay na ako. But still…I think I turned out to be okay…:)
    Grades are not really important…values and character are! πŸ™‚

  4. Tricia Faustino replied:

    Ay tama ka, KG!Dapat values and character ang importante : )

  5. Gracie replied:

    hi! stumbled upon your blog. nice piece here. i could actually relate to it…feeling ko you wrote my own sentiments, too. i’ve had the same experience belonging to the “smart” section one when i was in high school, and i was miserable! iba pa rin when ‘pag walang pressure ang environment. you can be more of yourself.

    cheers! πŸ™‚

  6. Tricia Faustino replied:

    Thanks for dropping by Gracie! Yeah, the pressure is just so not worth it. Mind if I link you up?

  7. megamomph replied:

    My response to pressure was more of ‘dead-ma’. I attended a science high school, too. And I went through the same ordeal in college. Or worse, 40 lang kami. That’s when I really zoned out of the pressure.

  8. Rynor replied:

    Trish, I totally agree with you. Our lives are not evaluated by the grades we get in school. It is really how we have put these lessons into action.

    Character, virtues, values and principles are far more important than report cards. My parents were more concerned about CONDUCT in school and though I was on the school’s honor roll, I value my memorable experiences more than my grades.

    At the end of the day, people won’t remember how you fared in Algebra but they would notice how you counted your blessings.

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