Competition in the classroom3 min read

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As I open up my planner after a long day of school and extracurriculars, I am astonished by the amount of stress I have experienced in just one school day. Too many tests, too many essays and too many graded assignments. The only thing more stress-inducing than completing these assignments is getting the grade handed back and hearing all the chatter about who in the class got what grade. 

A teacher’s perspective on sharing grades differs significantly from a student’s, as teachers constantly repeat not to share grades after most assignments are returned, while most students share their grades with at least one other classmate. 

According to high school guidance counselor Rachel Soifer, sharing grades and peer pressure in a school setting can have both positive and negative effects on those that are falling for it.

“Having peer pressure to study and get good grades and to perform well during high school doesn’t have to be a bad thing,” Soifer said. “But it can be too much of a good thing when it becomes such a focus that kids lose sight of other important things or lose their mentality.”

Looking at this topic from a student’s perspective, most of us do not just see our peers’ grades as something that influences us to perform well. While attending a competitive school like CESJDS, it is easy to fall into the trap of getting extremely stressed over all of one’s grades. 

Although parents play a crucial role in our lives by encouraging their children to do well and perform their best in school, they are not the ones who contribute greatly to this grade-induced stress and anxiety. Personally, I believe that my parents are content with my grades as long as I try my hardest. 

My classmates, unlike my parents, do not see my performance as stellar unless it is an “A.” Some like to say that they got an “A” without even studying, even while a student who did study received a much lower grade. Hearing this can often lead to one comparing themselves to others, which could potentially lower their self-esteem. Soifer has noticed that many students, both in and outside of this school, “compare their own insecurities to someone else’s strength[s].”  

This problem does not call for a drastic solution, it just needs to be taken into consideration that everyone holds different opinions on this topic. I do believe that sharing grades is okay, as long as it is not too overbearing. It is key for students both in and out of school to acknowledge others’ strengths and weaknesses without comparing them to their own. 

While one subject may be one’s best, it could be another’s worst. Everyone is an individual with their own unique strengths. If a friend declines a request to share a grade, it should not send off the connotation that they performed poorly on the assignment. 

“If you want to work and accomplish things, we have to be strong and build ourselves up and use our energy in a positive way,” Soifer said.

This story was featured in the Volume 36, Issue 4 edition of The Lion’s Tale, published on January 25, 2019.

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