I’ve never cared much for grades. Regardless, I’ve somehow made it to college and I am preparing to enter the workforce. It isn’t memorizing facts and answering questions that got me here though. It is the love I have developed over a long time for gaining knowledge.
Case Study #1: A couple of weeks ago I got back from a BYU-Idaho school tour with the dance company. We ended up missing the first week of class. I wanted to make sure I could hit the ground running when I returned so I emailed all of my teachers before I left and asked them to fill me in on whatever I would be missing. I didn’t think about it much then, but it appears that they understood me (reasonably so) as, “What assignments will I need to do?”
Well those assignments are great and everything, but I wanted to know what they had established in that first week as being the main purposes and goals of the class. I wanted to know what to expect to get from the class and how to get what I needed out of it. I wanted to catch up on the class discussions and insight of the teacher and students. It’s kind of funny because I ended up missing the first couple of assignments in a particular class due to the hectic schedule I have this semester coupled with internet issues that first day back. I was more upset about missing out on the reading assignment and class discussions than I ever would be about a couple of missed assignments. I think my teacher thought I was weird.
Case Study #2: I took a Philosophy of Religion class over a year ago. Anyone who has studied Philosophy may know what an undertaking it is. I was pumped about it, seeing as religion is one of my favorite things to study, learn about, and teach. I don’t know if I missed something the first day of class, but I’m pretty sure all he said would be required of us besides the final paper was daily attendance and class participation, coming prepared by studying the assigned readings. That’s my kind of class. A week or so into the semester I realized everyone was turning in answers to questions at the end of class. Sure enough, we were either supposed to answer questions or do an outline for each reading. Bummer. I did my best, I really did. I spent literally hours reading the assigned articles, trying my best to understand the writer’s perspective as well as my own thoughts on the matter. It was really quite life-changing. I rarely got around to answering the questions though. But you bet I was in class asking questions and giving opinions. You bet I was an active participant in that classroom while others were quietly hovering over their notebooks finishing the assignment to turn in when class was over. What grades did they get? A’s and B’s easily. What was my grade? D. (And that’s with a kick-butt final paper, I might add.) Well I appealed and my teacher so “mercifully” gave me a C- instead.
Also funny is the fact that I get the worst grades in my religion classes here at BYU-Idaho. They all happen to be some of my favorite classes. I don’t want to stop learning the things the scriptures and history have to offer. Unfortunately for some people, caring about assignments and grades alone can put a damper on that.
And so I continue trying to get the most out of my college experience without worrying too much about my grades. Thankfully, in a lot of instances the more I care about learning, good grades naturally come (or else I would have flunked out long ago). Don’t get me wrong, grades can take you places. It’s only by the grace of God I made it past high school and into college. But I can see myself not only doing well in my profession, I will be loving everything that I do and moving forward in my endeavors. All thanks to that great desire I’ve been blessed with to seek not grades, but knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.
Side note: Props to BYU-Idaho for developing what we call The Learning Model. It’s a huge step in the right direction if we (students and teachers) apply its principles properly. It is definitely inspired. Unfortunately, as long as the grading system remains, I don’t think it can reach its full potential. Some day…