“Hello,” He Said To The Charming Young Lady Standing By The Hors D’Oeuvres Table At His Cousin’s Wedding, “My Name Is Charlie Charming, And My GPA Is Four Point Oh!” “Good-bye,” She Said, Wandering Off To Find Someone More Interesting.

July 23, 2010

For July 20, 2010

Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school. • Albert Einstein

Walker Percy said that you can get all A’s and still flunk life and I agree. Nonetheless, I’d be lying if I said that grades don’t matter. Sometimes they do. They matter when you’re hoping to go on for further education. They matter when you want to be considered for an internship or a particular kind of job or a scholarship that requires a high GPA.

They matter when you’d like to do something outside the box of requirements, since a record of good grades provides instructors with reassurance that you take your studies seriously and can spark their willingness to take a chance on your intentionality. No matter how much an instructor may like a student as a person, educational possibilities are usually built on a foundation of excellent, caring, high quality work.

Grades can also matter because they provide validation for students. A good grade shows someone that they can be successful in school. In my own life and in my work with other adults returning to school, a grade that recognizes the effort we put into our studies can be meaningful and motivational. It lets us know that success is possible and keeps us going.

There is seldom an opportunity in real life beyond school to share your GPA. No one cares. They care what you can do. They care what you do do. Your accomplishments are what counts.

And while it’s true that grades can and do count when you’re in school, it’s also true that grades aren’t the purpose of education, although it sometimes seems as though they are. Any time you are proud of your work, regardless of the grade it receives, you’ve been successful.

What’s an assignment you’ve been proud of after you completed it—in school or in life?

But there are advantages to being elected President. The day after I was elected, I had my high school grades classified Top Secret. • Ronald Reagan



  1. Aloha! I am in the middle of my second week teaching in Hawaii and I logged onto your blog to re-energize my creative thinking! I feel like I’ve used up all my creative energies already and I can’t think of fun things to do and still teach science! How do you do it?!


    • Hi, April,

      I haven’t been wordprocessing much since I’ve been on vacation and also hurt a finger on my right hand and it hasn’t been “bendable.” I just got home from my travels last night, so this is my first day back at home.

      I think that you need to give yourself permission to be a first-year teacher and realize that some days won’t be as exciting as others–I think I’m a fairly creative person, but some days I just don’t feel inspired. AND, sometimes, it’s just about teaching science. You might also involve students in trying to come up with creative ways to do the “same old thing.”

      I do find that coming up with some Collectory topics related to what I teach is helpful–it keeps me energized to be on the hunt for related things, whether it’s gross stuff (including my toilet paper Collectory), or breasts, or bugs or whatever. It stimulates thinking as I try to think about how what I find could possibly be related to other things.

      What are you teaching? So good to hear from you. Any advice for next year’s group?


      • I think what that student speaker said in HDLC? was very good. He said something like, “Give other teachers benefit of the doubt. You may think they’re doing a horrible job teaching, but you don’t know everything they’re dealing with.”

        I am teaching marine science, and I know almost nothing about fish. I am also teaching chemistry. Paperwork and learning the ropes here at Mililani High are keeping me busy and stressed!

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