Passion for Learning

Students are constantly bombarded with grades, causing them to focus less on learning the material. The American education system needs to create a more learning-oriented system of teaching.

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Passion for Learning

Maya Sivakumar, Staff Writer

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When my parents went to school in India, they had tremendous respect for their teachers. They would stand as soon as they entered the room and turn in every assignment on time. This was because they had made a choice. My parents chose to come to school every day and learn, the decision being forced upon them by no one. 

However, in our current American society, learning is forced upon children starting from when they are five. Despite this early start, their passion for learning deteriorates as they make their way up the ladder. Once they get to high school, everyone has essentially given up. Learning is no longer a priority, the only goal is to study just enough to ace the test. How did this happen? 

The answer is quite simple. If you give a child an ice cream cone, they will end up eating it. If you force a child to eat an ice cream cone, they no longer like eating ice cream. This is how school works. 5 days a week. 8 hours a day. 

Students have been pressured to learn since childhood, and eventually, they get tired of it. They have had enough ice cream, so they find clever ways to avoid it. This leads to a point-driven student, a student who couldn’t care less about how well they are understanding the material, they just need to get an A. 

Some may question the problem with this. The problem plays in real life. A point-driven student uses grades as a motivation to keep working. Once they step into the real world, they will not find grades anywhere. Without this key drive, they can not go above and beyond like they supposedly went to school. 

Another detriment would be self-esteem. Point-driven students connect their self-esteem to their grades. Every 89 or below makes them feel like a failure. 

The worst part is that these students do not even care about what they did wrong. Point-driven students focus on the points they still have rather than the points they lost. They cry over the 78% they received rather than working hard to understand what went wrong with the 22% they lost. To fix this, schools need to be more willing to shape learning-driven students.

To eliminate point-driven students, schools need to eliminate points. Students should not be forced to fill in bubbles or write meaningless lab reports to prove their knowledge. Finland, a country that is considered to have the best education system in the world, only has one required standardized test. A test which is only taken at the end of senior year. For younger children, schools prioritize playtime. There are always 45 minutes of instruction for every 15 minutes of playtime. 

Despite not being regularly tested, Finnish students score exceptionally high on tests compared to American students. This is because students are bred to focus on learning the material, not scoring high on tests. No matter how hard schools stress that learning should be a prime concern, students will never believe this unless points no longer exist. 

NAI students agree. The path to becoming point-driven appears to be the only path available. Brendan White, a freshman, argues that the motive to work will automatically drop once there are no grades to strive for. 

 He says, “People have focused more on the percentage because they equate that to success, but real success should be receiving an education that will allow you to succeed in the world. When you are an adult at your job, you’ll only do good if you complete 100% of what you have to do, not 95% or 80%. If you just want a good percentage, you have the wrong mindset-you really should be focusing on getting the knowledge you need to succeed. Overall, it brings up other issues in our education system such as a grading system that has many flaws.”

 Ella Cullen, a freshman, calls the pressure to get good grades “a cycle”. She says, “I get massive amounts of homework so then I might do bad on a test because I’m tired from the homework. I then get stressed because I did bad on the test. Because I am so stressed about the grade I am getting and the massive amounts of homework I have there is no time to actually think about what I am learning.”

 Marissa Granite, a sophomore, says, “My freshman year, I can think of more times I crammed or freaked out about a test rather than actual information that I learned in my classes. It’s kinda disappointing to me.” Ada Sun, a freshman, complains about pressure outside of school that has caused her to become point-driven. She says, “My parents only see what’s visible like grades, instead of what’s happening internally, like how much you improved and learned.”

 The facts that these high school students face says it all. A point-driven state of mind is not the most helpful. Schools need to stop conditioning a grade driven mindset and start making sure their students are learning as efficiently as possible.

 We are so lucky to live in a country where we can learn without a struggle. Many children and teens living in impoverished countries travel miles just to get to the closest school. Their motivation to learn is unmatchable. Maybe the reason they want to learn is because they don’t have to.