Essay topics: Competition for high grades seriously limits the quality of learning at all levels of education.
Education is certainly the hot-button issue of the moment with national policies such as “Race to the Top” and “No Child Left Behind,” change the way we teach, measure academic success, and even learn. At the heart of the debate over the future of education is the question broached in this prompt: whether competition for high grades would severely compromise the quality of learning experience across all levels of education. Granted, many educational theorists have championed that students zeroing in on scores only would not reap the most out of their learning experience. Some more precious and priceless skills or values, such as humanitarian thinking, might be lost. However, claiming that competition would compromise the quality of learning at all levels of education is too umbrella and categorical. I, instead, would consider that provided that students are encouraged to compete with each other for better grades, in a benign amount, then salubrious effects elicited out of competition might enrich students’ learning experiences.
Of course, I accede that if high grades take precedence over other learning objectives, then children or students in primary school might lose their desires in learning. Therefore, competition should be shunned, since the ends of primacy school education are to pique those students’ curiosity and train their cognitive skills. Overemphasis on competition would be counterproductive and might invoke fear in their minds. They might fear that bad marks are correlated with foolishness. In the long haul, their confidence is eroded away and interests in learning would disappear.
Additionally, using a barometer to gauge high school students’ learning and performance might be inapt as well since during the phase of adolescence, teenagers are in the phase of exploring this world and they might not be psychologically or physically ready to bear all the pressure of achieving high scores at all time in their education. Just a few weeks ago, University of Chicago renounced the adoption of standardized test scores, such as SAT or ACT for undergraduate admissions decisions, the rationale being that the institute underscores the holistic and diverse characteristics that prospective students showcase. National reports have witnessed a deluge of reportage that students over-emphasize standardized tests, thereby diverting their precious time of engaging in meaningful activities or developing practical skills. Instead, they would invest much of their time cramming for these standardized tests. The downside is that albeit with high scores, these students are bereaved of thinking creatively, critically, and most importantly, independently. They would always think that answers exist and all questions in life are multiple-choice, if not short-response questions. This decision made by University of Chicago was received with kudos, since many education institutes and pundits have been denouncing the downsides and repercussions of placing so much emphasis on scores and grades. The competition for scores would also engender psychological repercussions since schools are no longer treated as venues for learning and growth, but instead as a battle field where students hunt each other and battle each other until one falls. The tremendous pressure of attaining high scores might force some to lose interests and passions, and gradually they divert themselves of the rightness of life paths. It is of paramount importance that students forgo contending with each other since competition invites only ennui but not efficiency.
However, the wholesale claim that competition would circumscribe the learning experience at all levels of education is far too categorical. Competition, by contrast, can yield benign learning experiences in college level or above. Students can be drawn out to maximize their potentials; for example, in higher-eduction, students competing for highest grades are necessary insofar as they get to apply for grants, merit-based scholarships, or fellowship. Having a perfect GPA also allows undergraduates to acquaint themselves with the kind of the competing milieu in workplace; that is, cultivating a keen sense of competition in higher-education can serve as a perfect segue into their lives after they leave the school. Therefore, competition is as important on the micro level as it is on the macro level. Students in higher-education yearn for higher placement on the grading list, so they would understand what they are truly good at and what they are really interested to explore in depth. Another respect worth discussing is that competition can impart valuable life lessons onto students. To wit, although competition is not a subject that we learn or teach, it is incredibly important because it teaches students to persevere in the face of failure. No one wants to be a loser. If students bear the pressure of failure, they will have a bent for applying themselves diligently against all odds. The kind of nature and character cultivated during this process can be transferred to adulthood and therefore be pragmatically utilized. Since college students possess better autonomous learning ability, having them compete for higher grades should be fruitful in helping them grow.
All told, although the statement claims that learning might be compromised if all the levels of education place emphasis on competition. Instead, this argument is couched in a categorical overtone; instead, contingent upon the nature of learning at different levels of education, competition for high grades would generate different consequences: merits or shortcomings. Therefore, what educators should do is to appraise their student body and their learning needs and apply necessary grading model.
- Competition for high grades seriously limits the quality of learning at all levels of education. (66)
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