Educated individuals like Thomas Jefferson, Rene Descartes, William Shakespeare, Galileo, and Plato were never given grades.
Today however, the contrast couldn’t be greater. Grades define the contours of our educational system. Our society is even structurally dependent on grading performance. Just look at how the best jobs go to the students with the best grades at the best universities, who in turn accept students with the best grades at the best high schools.
At first glance, the large-scale implementation of grades seems like a textbook example of efficiency improvement. Grades function as a simple and immediate feedback mechanism. They allow differences between students to be quantified and permit teachers to process more students in a shorter period of time. However, upon closer inspection, essential questions arise:
Why do we attach so much value to grades? Are grades an adequate form of feedback? What is the relationship between education and grades? And could an educational model be effective without this?
In this article, we shine a light on these questions and in doing so reflect on some essential features of the THNK Executive Leadership Program.