The Myth Of Merit: How The Grading System Is Discriminatory And Hinders Inclusive Education

Posted on May 8, 2014 in Education

By Aanchal Khulbe:

There has been a ubiquitous unidirectional mentality which triggers a uni-directional pedagogy and vice versa. A person comes out to be how the child was educationally structured, and when this structuring is pushing them to fatal extremes to solve one question paper, or being clay-moulded into believing what they are told, or a single-minded income-based approach to education, how can this structuring amount to any kind of quality education? Does this groom you, evolve you, or does this make you another follower in the age-old line?

grading system

Grades have an inevitable moral code attached to them. Imagine you have guests at home; the second thing they want to know about you when you are introduced to them, only after perhaps your name, is the percentage you acquired or your rank in class. You reply with a complete cognizance of a tag that is now going to be attached against your name. Studious means principled. Failure means worthless. This is what the society has finally converged into – an entity weighing and judging worth by its over-valued, discriminatory and biased method of grading.

Now the question is, why do the majority chose the chase? However debilitating and baseless, this is still the short-cut. The safer way. The escape. The ready-to-solve questions make it appear as the safer way of education – mug it up, vomit, forget.

Grades divide the society into classes, a social structure, similar to distinctions based on caste. A hierarchy is formed among students and they are divided between class stratas, on the basis of academic performance. This discrimination has resulted into an immense amount of pressure from a very young age. There are swords hanging  upon a child to score high, and then there is cut throat competition, the fear of which culminates into hard work, and not the curiosity to attain knowledge. It is not the thrill for the type of knowledge you want to attain during the process that drives you to make lifetime decisions, but the output, i.e., the alluring fascination of the bragging amount in currency that can be converted out of the degree you are holding today.

This system introduces comparison and competition at a very young age. Talent and curiosity are sought to be crushed at every level. There is no space for personal growth. If an academician wants to go into the area of research, one has to be prepared for a future of limited means. India does not value experimentation, debates or new discoveries, because such works are for the spare pieces, the dregs of the society. This process begins at the very base-level. Parents have a general tendency to condemn anything off-academic. This is because the Indian parents believe in visible results. Also, there is a blatant parent hierarchy that they need to manage. There is also a parallel pressure with the pressure of grades. It is that of living up to expectations. One is made to realize the need to study and bring home money because one has been invested upon.

The sanctity of merit and the myth of the hierarchical student pyramid shoots from the walled mentality of the Indian society. The structure of the mindset of the society dictates the structure of education provided by it. Merit is no basis of judgement and the only area that can be worked upon is the stubborn, unchanging, unyielding and baseless institution called mentality.