Does grading really do any good for education?

I was graded throughout primary and high school. My first college graded its students. Then I went to Bennington and discovered the value of no-grade education. When I returned to college at age 40 I disliked Emerson’s policy of using grades. So I chose Goddard as my graduate school.

There are good and bad things about the no-grades system. The good part is that you get a better quality education without the grades. If you are already an A student, and you don’t have that pinnacle called “A” to strive for, you work much, much harder and learn ten times more. However, transferring out you won’t have much to show for except a P for all your classes.  I’m not sure if employers even care. That I know of, they want to know what degree you got and if you graduated.

Does the absence of grades prepare you for the working world? Sadly, no. You may have learned much more, but the working world is cutthroat and competitive. In the working world, if you want to do some far-out wacky project, your workplace won’t support you nor cheer you on the way they did at the liberal college you went to. In real life, you aren’t going to be coddled and spoiled.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad I went to Goddard. I  would likely not be writing these words otherwise. I given the opportunity to develop this gift called writing. The hard part is choosing the best way to use it.

Writing, in itself, isn’t a marketable skill. No one wants a “writer” actually. If the job description says “writer,” sorry to say, all they want is ad copy. They do not want your novel and they won’t appreciate it, either.

Goddard didn’t teach me how to get a job. However, I didn’t ask for that when I got there. I had no clue I’d be entering the work force at that time. Let’s just say I believed I was off the hook.

Writing eventually saved my life and keeps me going. As far as being marketable, while I am not likely to find that “writer” job I have managed to develop other, related skills, namely:

Ability to read aloud to an audience
Sense of humor
Love of performing
Public speaking

When I started my job we newbies were asked to fill out a questionnaire. One of the questions was, “What is your dream job?” They wanted us to push the limit with this one, and didn’t expect us to write, “I have always dreamed of working an entry-level position.”

To answer that question I wrote that my dream job is to make it to the TED Talks. I know I can do it and I know I am qualified. I don’t expect my friends from the System to be supportive. In fact, I expect naysaying such as “You can try but you won’t be accepted.” Or, “You sure?” It’s bullshit, but to be honest I don’t see much support coming from the survivor community. Patients are brainwashed into believing our work is second-rate. We’ve been told that for years, or even decades. For this reason, I know enough to move beyond the survivor community which is holding me back.

A person should know how to act in a competitive environment. Lack of competition due to a no-grading system in the long run leads to failure to act properly under competition. The world of work is cutthroat and we need to know how to handle it. No grades doesn’t mean anything goes. If the colleges have a no grading policy, they need to also be very demanding on their students.

Feedback and comments welcome!