An ‘F’ Kills a Student

Today was the first class for EDUC390 Measurement and Evaluation in Education and the overall perception of students toward examination and grading isn’t that encouraging. This is mainly because exams and grades (in whatever form they are presented) create undue stress, division (through competition in the classroom), and ill-feeling in students. I was particularly fascinated and ‘sad’ at the same time by a statement made by a student from mainland China about people’s perception toward examination and grading in her country. I quote her…

“When children come home, parents ask them what did they get, instead of asking what did they learn for the day.” – Jessica –

Just think about the statement. I dare not expand on this statement and distract your reflective mind about the ill-effects exams and grading bring to our society.

F grade.gif

When I was in Malaysia on a one-month home leave just recently, I read about students committing suicide for getting an ‘F’ grade in one subject (which they could re-do in a matter of a few months time). I know this is not an uncommon incident. But when we really think about it, we come to a realization of how ridiculous our premises and attitude toward examination and grading are!

We often talk and become concerned about moral degradation. But what happens in the school system is even worse than a decline in morality because those who are supposedly educated and well-versed in the principles and practices of ‘true’ education are the ones who place so much importance on something so feeble like exams and grades. In essence, we have become murderers of our own children. We kill not by using physical weapons. The instrument we use to kill our children is our own misperception about ‘what constitutes learning and how it is assessed’.

Copyright August 2006 by Dr. Edward Roy Krishnan,

1 thought on “An ‘F’ Kills a Student”

  1. There was a discussion regarding this matter in one of my class last year. A college mate stated that she got a C for one of her papers. So she worked hard. Day and night, revising her paper, doing the best she can…and for her next assignment, she got a B. For the same assignment, she found out that her other friend got an A. This friend, she felt did not slave as much as her, and she felt she was not justified. She worked hard, and all she got is a B. While the other friend (according to her), dengan senang-lenangnya got an A.

    I remember her questioning the importance of improving in studies, rather than improving in grades.

    I think we concluded that instead of comparing herself with others, she should just concentrate on her own improvement. The fact that she did improve was more important than anybody’s grades.

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