We should all be familiar with Jesus’ exhortation in Matthew chapter 6 to seek the kingdom of God rather than chase after the things we think we need. He doesn’t say we should forget about the things we think we need—food, clothes, the important stuff—but that those things will be added to us if we will seek first the kingdom of God. The idea seems to be that seeking after food and clothing (and fill in the blank) is something akin to getting so blinded by individual trees that we become unable to see the forest. Or worse: Jesus seems to be cautioning us against a form of idolatry, against letting our material needs (and wants) take the place of God as the focus of our worship and devotion.
On November 18, 2021, Trinitas Christian School and its parents celebrated three new inductees into The National Honors Society (NHS). While being inducted into NHS is no simple academic feat, remember that NHS and many other academically prestigious awards are not exclusively Christian by any means. As a matter of fact, in many educational settings, when students pursue the type of academic success that qualifies them for the NHS, merit scholarships, and the like, their pursuits are often carried out in fierce competition with their classmates, producing academic pride, and result in an exaltation of self. However, in a Christ-centered education like that which is offered at Trinitas Christian School, we endeavor to pursue academic excellence in the following ways:
We’ve spent the last two weeks thinking about the dominant form of grades used in schools today, the history and effects of that system, and why they are not the ideal for a classical Christian school.
Bear with me one more time as I recall our pitching metaphor. A coach who tells a young pitcher that they threw a “C+” pitch is not providing much help. And the young pitcher who interrupts a coach’s instruction to ask, “Yeah, but did I pass?” might be riding the bench for a while. Why? Because we understand intuitively that constructive feedback is about more than a graded evaluation.
As we saw last week, the modern grade scale is a fairly recent development in education and not one that has a long history of success or stability. This week we will look at how grades are perceived to function which has important implications for a Christian classical school.
The purpose of grades in a classroom, under the A–F system, is to pass judgment through a numerical evaluation. This gives the notion of impartiality and objectivity while mitigating the force of the judgment. We pass judgment every day, of course, regarding what shoes to wear, what route to take to work, and even what to say to our boss. Judgment is an inescapable part of the human experience. But there is no denying: we do not like feeling “judged.”
Imagine you are a young pitcher, standing on the mound of your first Varsity baseball practice. You throw the ball to the catcher, and your coach proceeds to tell you that it was a “C+” pitch. What would you think? The example seems ludicrous to us because we know what the young man needs: pointed, specific guidance so that he can improve the pitch. We know intuitively that the letter, in this case, is unhelpful.
Now imagine the same scenario from a slightly different angle. You are the coach. As you approach the mound and begin explaining to the student how to use their shoulders as they throw, you are suddenly interrupted. “Yeah, but did I pass, Coach?” You can imagine the frustration in this similarly absurd example. “A student would never say that!” you think to yourself. And you’re right; they would not. Again, this is intuitive; there doesn’t even seem a need to explain it. Similar scenarios could be played out ad nauseum, with different actors substituted in to show that applying a percentage system of grading to life is unhelpful at best and downright dehumanizing at worst. So why does this same proposal meet with such hesitancy when applied to the classroom?
People come and people go. That is a truth in any community. It is human nature, I suppose to some extent, for people to get interested in a thing, even convinced about a thing, then lose interest or become unconvinced over time. Maybe we just have a short (and shortening) attention span. Because it is enrollment season, though, and families are deciding whether or not their children ought to attend Trinitas next year, I am spending the next few weeks focusing on some of the top reasons people give for losing interest in and leaving Trinitas. This is the second of four such installments, and I hope you find it helpful if you are trying to make an enrollment decision.
People come and people go. That is a truth in any organization. It is human nature, I suppose to some extent, for people to get interested in a thing, even convinced about a thing, then lose interest or become unconvinced over time. Because it is enrollment season and families are deciding whether or not they ought to attend Trinitas, I want to spend the next few weeks focusing on some of the top reasons people give for losing interest in and leaving Trinitas.
Sometime around the end of the nineteenth century, American colleges and universities began to use a form of grading students that resembles what most high schools, colleges, and universities still use today: A, B, C, D, and F. The grades are intended to be a way of measuring and reporting a student’s performance on a given assignment or within a given subject over a period of time. They are useful for that task, but far from perfect. At Trinitas we also grade students using a variation of the aforementioned marks.