Why Do We Try: A Love of Learning or for Grades?

By MacKenzie Guynn unnamed-2 Of all the awards given out at the end of the year, only one rewards a group of students for a love for learning: the Erasmus award. However, there are numerous awards that recognize students’ excellence in the strength of their grades. These include Cum Laude, Valedictorian, and several others. This raises the question of whether Latin’s promotion of these awards is the driving force behind a student’s interest in grades rather than learning for a genuine love of learning. With the vision of college at the end of the road for most, if not all, Latin students, the question of, “am I good enough?” circles around everyone’s minds at one point or another. This question is lethal. It can cause grades to become the most important part of one’s high school career and leaves learning for enjoyment in the dust. This is partly the students’ fault  for allowing themselves to discard learning for pleasure so readily, but who can blame us? The system is set-up to have students feel pressure surrounding their grades because grades and GPA seem like a big part in your college admission process.   Students across the country are exposed to the same set of issues. If you want to be successful, then you have to be an “A student.” The pressure to live up to such an expectation is placed on students by parents, schools, and themselves. Yet, some students manage to continue learning to learn. One freshman commented on how “grades are a big aspect,” but she continuously finds herself getting “pumped up” about completing an assignment for a class she doesn’t have the best grade in. However, she was only one of three students who said they just learn to learn, while six students said that they learn solely for the grades. Most of these six students said that they saw grades as a major player in determining their success in a class and their future in high school as well as college. However, many students said that it depended on the topic they were learning and the way they were learning it. If the topic is enjoyable for a student and they have to truly delve into the information in order to complete a project or assignment, then the idea of grades slowly drifts to the backs of their minds, according to those who were in between. While in classes where the main source of improvement is seen through assessments, grades become much more of a focus. The same can be said about classes that a student does not enjoy. They may not see the use in learning the concepts and, therefore, just learn it in order to get a good grade and not tarnish their transcript with a “bad grade.” The majority of students that I asked said they were in favor of both. They don’t want to jeopardize their grades, but they find a love for learning anyway. Finding a way to learn for both your grades, and a love for learning, may be hard to do, but it is a goal for everyone to try and accomplish. It is comforting that the majority of Latin students I interviewed expressed a love of learning, while continuing to see the importance in their grades.]]>