In my last post, I established that grades are subjectively, if not arbitrarily, assigned. This inevitably draws the ‘pure learner’ argument.
Cynthia writes: “Why don’t you try being a pure learner, whose objective is knowledge, not grades??”
This is another way of asking, what does it matter if grades are subjective? Why do grades even matter in the grand scheme of things? By itself, arbitrary grading is inconsequential, but combined with admissions, scholarship granting and hiring practices, arbitrary grading promotes bias, prejudice, macroeconomic ineptitude and a culture of ignorance.
1. Admissions criteria
Admissions to college, grad school and other post secondary institutions are based primarily on grades. If you don’t believe me, try applying to MIT for a Ph. D. in Computer Science with a C average and see how far you get. Leadership skills and volunteer work won’t mean dick.
Ever wonder how that ditz got a full scholarship and you’re working two jobs to keep your student loans under control? Scholarships are mostly distributed primarily on the basis of marks.
3. Hiring practices
When you’ve got 20 years experience or a Ph. D., your transcript might not matter to employers, but for your first job out of college, plenty of them will have a look. It may not be the only criteria, but it counts. More importantly, plenty of jobs require a minimum education level, which you won’t have if you’re arbitrarily flunked out be teachers who don’t like you or don’t know how to evaluate you.
To summarize, unless you are so wealthy that you can bribe your way into the school you want, don’t care about scholarships, and don’t need a job after, you have to worry about marks!
Therefore, the ‘pure learner’ argument is bullshit.