I've had this idea spinning in my head for a couple days now, and I thought I'd let it out here to get your opinion on the matter. What I would like to propose here is a way to improve our national school system by changing the way students view the grades in which all students are judged by.
Having just graduated from college with a BA in Arts and Technology, I've been looking back at my school years and wondering why school, in simplistic and plebeian terms, sucked. Why did I hate school so much, why was I not motivated to go above and beyond in my work? Most of it I can blame on my lackadaisical view of the institution of learning, but I also wanted to look at other factors that could have been changed during the years I attended school. And suddenly inspiration struck, from Facebook of all places.
I found a post from a college friend about how Congress were arguing about raising the grade requirement for graduating. The article I read can be found here. A question popped into my mind: what was the point of increasing the threshold of grades needing to graduate? The more immediate, short-term effect from a bill like this would serve to increase the standards that students would be graded upon, but in the long-term, I feel the bill only serves to create a bare minimum for students to reach instead of encouraging students to grow. The bills itself would only serve to increase the arbitrary number that a student must reach to barely scrape by.
And then a curious notion popped from my thinking cap: why do we put a ceiling on how much our students can achieve? I remember the days of high school and college, when I saw some of my fellow students go above and beyond the scope of an assignment, putting in more work and polish than was necessary for a project or a school assignment. And what did they get? 100%. Great, isn't it?
However, there were far more students, like me, who turned in assignments that followed the bare minimum requirements set by the teacher, and we followed them to the letter, but never going beyond the scope of the project. And what grade did we receive for our "effort?" 100%. The other students that worked so hard and long on their assignments merely received a pat on the back and public acknowledgement in class, but at the end of the day, that grade was still the same as the ones given to those who followed the instructions of the assignment.
My point is that the grading system in place right now does little to encourage or promote growth in an individual. As a self-proclaimed game designer, I saw how unrewarding this system is to any player that participates in this system. It stymies the motivation of students that wish to expand their knowledge base far beyond the curriculum put in place and encourages students to merely hit a threshold in their knowledge.
From here, I decided to look at systems the promote growth, namely EVERY RPG AND MMORPG VIDEO GAME EVER MADE. My god, look at the amount of time and energy people spend playing World of Warcraft or Mass Effect or The Elder Scrolls series. In these worlds, players are only limited by the ceiling of what's possible in the in-game environments and systems, and the player's growth is dependent on how much time they spend playing the game. Why can't we make our school systems more like an RPG video game? Why not create a system that measures growth rather than adhering to the minimum?