I walk through the hallway and am surrounded by students with numbers stamped on their foreheads. The stamps are big and red and smeared: they scream “93,” “65,” “87,” “102,” “54”…our test scores.
Somehow, this has become the root of modern education. It doesn’t matter if our assignments are dull and diluted, so long as we walk away from them with shiny 100 percents. These numbers have become connected to your worth.
“You got a 92 on that history test?”
“Not bad. You might be goin’ places.” Pause. “Oh, it was in regular history? Not good enough.”
“You got a 65 on that history test?”
“Have fun serving me burgers.”
And so it continues. Day after day, students are bombarded with tests, and night after night, students make futile attempts to study for seven classes, only to cringe when they receive a paper with a red number that fails to meet their high expectations. Because, in the minds of our high school, a C is not average, A’s are expected, and the school will not rest until you achieve this.
Please don’t get me wrong. I want to succeed. I want our whole high school to succeed. I believe the school wants us to succeed. But I refuse to believe that 68 percent on that one test that you can’t quite remember what it was about, but you think it might have involved complex numbers…is an indicator of your success in life. We grow tired of clichéd examples of hope, such as Einstein failing math, so we skip over them and assume we’ll never reach that level–but Einstein was more than a number.
And so are you.