Reflections upon the appreciation of the pupils with the highest mark (A)

I have decided to write this article after I observed some misunderstandings and wrong attitudes of the pupils, teachers and parents of the pupils towards the highest mark. In this article I want to present some personal thoughts about the maximal mark, that is 10 (ten) in Moldova, 5 (five) in Russia and A in United States. No matter what the system of appreciation is, there is always a mark that show the maximal appreciation. This is what I think about the application and the attitude towards this mark.

The highest mark is for evaluating the pupil’s knowledge. This is the meaning of the marks in the system of appreciation used in schools, and the maximal mark is for the maximal appreciation of a maximal effort made by the pupil. All people agree with this and every time we see this mark in the notebook or on the diploma of the graduate, it sends the message of the excellency. God also has maximal marks, prepared for His children. Here is what the Bible says about such a score:

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (Epistle of James 1:12)(NASB)

The highest mark is for motivating the pupil to the maximal effort. The Russians have a proverb that says that bad is the soldier who doesn’t want to become a general. Maybe it is not the best comparison, but we can say the same about the pupil, that it is not good if he doesn’t aim and tend to gain and to possess knowledge for the highest mark. They have to tend to this always.

The highest mark is for appreciating the maximal effort of the pupil. I have heard how some teachers say to the pupils: “No one has knowledge on A, so, at my subject, no one, will ever get this mark.” Such way of thinking and attitude towards the pupils and their efforts is not correct and it discourages. Taking this decision, the teacher takes out from the pupils the highest aim and he ceases their wish to make a maximal effort. Once the Lord Jesus said to His disciples the next parable:

Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour. For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master. (The Gospel of Matthew 25:13–21)(NASB)

The highest mark is given in accordance to the pupil’s abilities and efforts made by him. As a teacher, I have always given marks to the students, leading myself by these principles, that is absolutely biblical. Here is what the Lord Jesus says in the continuation of the same parable:

Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master. (The Gospel of Matthew 25:22–23)(NASB)

At his departure, the wise master from this parable, entrusted his possessions to the slaves “according to their own abilities” and then, even if one brought five talants and the other only two, he gave the highest mark of appreciation to both of them, because one as the other had used their abilities to the maximal potential. A teacher will always take into consideration what the pupil’s abilities are, what effort he made and he will not give the highest mark only to those that assimilate the subject matter easily, or even without effort to some. Inversely, he will also ask from them an effort worthy of the highest mark. This also means that the teacher has to know his pupils’ abilities and to appreciate the effort made by them correctly.

Don’t use the highest mark to manipulate. Some teachers use the highest mark to manipulate and for many times, even the act that at the beggining of the course they say that they don’t give A to the pupils, this makes the pupils who are used to buy the marks understand that the highest mark costs much. Keep your integrity as a teacher and don’t ever do this thing.

Don’t let the highest mark affect your character and your good name. Firstly, this refers to the students. While I was a student at History, many times I saw that some were always ready to quarrel with the teacher because he hadn’t given the highest mark. What was ridiculous, is that after their knowledge was checked again, they were getting worse marks than at the beggining. It is not good to do this. If you have received a positive mark, it is better to remain with it than to compromise your reputation. When I was a student at the Ecclesiastical Seminary, we had to have a test after a short course on computers. Because we had had the questions beforehand, and because I knew the most in computer’s domain, I gave a consultation to my mates befoer the test, so all wrote the test on 8’s and up. I also answered all questions, but I don’t know what why I was given only a 6. I joked about it, even if it affected a little my final mark when I graduated the seminary. But I didn’t go to the teachers and I didn’t say anything. The mates were saying that I have to go and it seems that even they went for me. But, the teacher didn’t do anything and I thought that it would be better to let the things go that way. Next year, when we had a more complicated test, the teacher saw how qiuckly I was typing and how easily I operate with the learnt programs, and he appreciated this very highly. After that, I had 10 always, but even more, I had a good name and the respect of the teacher and of the mates. I think that this is much more important than the mark, that others were saying I had to ask to be increased then.

The teacher that refuses to give the highest mark, refuses in fact, to encourage his pupils. And the encouragement has a great role in the process of studying. All of us when we were studying a specific subject, had moments when we thought that we had no clues and that all the effort is useless. Encouragement meant so much in that moments and it kept our zeal to study that subject until the end.

Don’t put the highest mark because of personal favoritism. The pupils know well if a teacher “considers you bad from the beggining”, you will never be able to reestablish in his sight to get the marks for which you work. When I was at the University, the mates were trying to hide their anterior marks from the grade book, because the teachers were led by the mark received anteriorly and not by the answer that the student was giving. Not all of them were doing  that, but it was a pretty good number of partial teachers. The Bible teaches us so:

My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. (Epistle of James 2:1)(NASB)

My sister, since she was a pupil at school, became so desperate because her Geography teacher was always given a 3 to her (the systm of 5 grades) at every test, no matter what effort she made. Once, instead of writing the test, she wrote the prayer “Our Father” and this was in 70’s. And what do you think, she got a 3 again, because the teacher hadn’t even read her paper. This was partiality and the teachers that act in this way, have less respect from the pupils, because they are unright.

Don’t make from the highest mark an obstacle impossible to overcome. Some teachers don’t threaten the students, don’t say anything beforehand, but also, they don’t give A to anyone, or they give it very difficult. In this way, they set an obstacle in the minds of the pupils that makes them despere and not make the maximum effort, because that is useless.

Don’t buy the highest mark. I know someone who, being at school. no matter what effort she made, couldn’t get a higher mark than 6 or 7 at Maths. It was clear that the teacher, in her gluttony, was waiting to receive money from the parents of that pupil. Now, the pupil went to study at a college and at the first test on Maths she received the highest mark from the class. This made her realize that it was not difficult for her to learn Maths.

The parents rejoice greatly when their children receive the highest mark. How glad I am, when I come at home, and the children come with their grade books to show me the high marks they got. It seems to me that their great joy for the highest mark is even for making us, the parents, rejoice. And we rejoice because we see their respect and grattitude for the care we take for them.

Don’t change the highest mark in a torture. I remember how, being little, I was waiting very unpatiently to go to school and study new things. In the day I had to go for the first time at school, the father said in front of all other members of the family: “From now on, Vasilica will get a sound beating…” I couldn’t understand why so, and he replied: “Because you will get bad marks at school…” Can you imagine what a great encouragement I had. Praised be the Lord that it didn’t have any effect. My desire for knowledge was greater than the fear for unsuccess and I had delight to find out new things. Nevertheless, once, when I got a 3 at painting, I was afraid to come at home. Be wise and don’t change the highest mark and any other mark in a torture. Help and encourage the child to do his best at studying, but don’t evaluate his effort only according to marks, because the teachers are sometimes wrong when appreciating. Help your child to grow up a right man or woman.

May God help all of us to be right and to encourage one another.

Translated by Djugostran Felicia