Grades Are A Tool Of The Past
One thing we know for sure is that grades are important. Our parents reward us when we ace exams, and so we have been conditioned to think that scoring As in school are important achievements worthy of our time. And for the most part, this is true: the approval of our peers and our parents and our teachers depend largely on our grades. So grades do matter. But there's an interesting assumption to examine here: why do grades matter so much? Are they still as important now as they were 50 years ago? And perhaps - more importantly - why do so many of us accept grades as the de facto indicator of ability, without ever questioning the underlying logic of our grading ...view middle of the document...
The effects are far stronger and more powerful in technological companies. But, bearing these differences, what does this mean for grades?
It turns out that it is easier to measure performance in a small company, as opposed to a big one. If you do well, the company does well; if you do badly, the company does badly. This is not so for large corporations. In a large corporation, individual performance cannot be easily measured, because the organization is so large that your individual contributions do not have a significant effect on the bottom line. This is why grades have been so important to employers for the past few decades. The harder it is to measure individual performance, the more important it becomes to predict it. And because the economy has been dominated by large corporations for the past few decades, it used to mean everything to get good grades.
But this is fast becoming history. Grades matter less when you can directly measure what they are made to predict - which is real performance. Why bother with an indicator when you can gauge the real thing? Larger corporations are adapting in order to enjoy the benefits of being small - Google, for instance, forms small teams of engineers to develop and test new products, and presumably gauges performance based on those smaller teams.
If this seems a little incredulous to you, consider: just 50 years ago it was enough to get good grades to get a good job to retire comfortably. This no longer holds true. Today, we are not only aware of people who have succeeded despite dropping out of college, but I have friends who have either skipped college altogether, or who plan to drop out of school to do their own startups. And in big companies, there are now performance reviews, where before there were none. It used to be that seniority was all that mattered; young associates accepted a lower pay because they had to pay their dues, their times had yet to come.
It seems to be uncomfortably real that grades are beginning to decrease in importance. At the very least, they no longer hold the make-it-or-break-it quality they once had. And so, if this is true, the trend begs the question: what does this mean for students? According to Goodman, not much. “I doubt that many employers bother to look at such grades; they are more interested merely in the fact of a Harvard diploma, whatever that connotes to them.” (792)
There is something that must be said here on creativity. For all the noise our education system makes about creative thinking, and critical thinking, their models of teaching such forms of thinking cannot be conceptually further away from the truth.
I began this essay by asking a series of interesting questions. I examined why grades...