I finally realized yesterday that schools are set up so that students must desire high marks in order to learn well. The influence of the professor is unfortunately tied to their authority to assign grades. When a pupil doesn't care about keeping a good GPA, the professor becomes just another opinion. Respect for the professor is a necessary prerequisite to learning.
It would seem the best way to learn is by working for Good Grades. This bothers me. Doesn't this reinforce a sort of tyranny?
I was talking with an education major (who I happen to be engaged to), and I asked her what a grade represents. Her answer was rather non-sinister: "It's a symbol of how well you met the expectations of the class, and a way to pass that information on to others." Why do I seem to have to come at it backwards as I got older? As a child I got good grades, but that was at the end of each quarter. I didn't strive for an A and end up learning, I learned and my parents saw the result in good grades. Compare that to now. I have access to rubrics, syllabi and spreadsheets to see what it takes to make the grade I want. So I pick a good grade as my object, and it will result in learning.
Is this the plow leading the horse, or worse? Could it be that in my pride I have turned to other gods? Instead of simply working wholeheartedly, I look at other college kids as my standard. Many seem to be serving the gods of Diploma, Good Job, Doctorate Opportunity, Accomplishment. Rebelling against these gods is still idolatry - to spite them is to serve them, just as apathy is the true antonym of love. Now I must unlearn old habits. "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."