“Valedictorian” is a word that defines the best student in a batch. Take note, best. What does it take for one to become the best? Or a better question would be, what defines a valedictorian? Conventionally, a valedictorian is awarded to a person that obtained the highest GPA in the batch however, does GPA solely define someone as the best in the batch?
Over the years, people have evolved their philosophy on schooling. Thanks to the internet, we’ve become more exposed to different methods and experiences which could make the best learning experience for us. Unlike the old days wherein grades are the sole basis of credibility and our parents would yell at us for not getting good grades, our mindset has evolved to an extent in which we question the value of grades. More importantly, the educational system. As we all know, success is not defined by your grades. People now think of schooling as a formality to be at par with everyone else. Some just drop out to create their startup, take a leave of absence for a better opportunity, lead a community, or start a cause. The truth is people who failed a lot end up becoming successful. Given all these opportunities, some would still stick with the status quo of high grades equating to success. Every one of us has our own point of view when it comes to success. The world is changing really quickly and I wouldn’t be surprised if a diploma sets its own expiry date.
The idea of schooling is for us to set a benchmark. Say I want to learn math and after this course, I’m expected to know how to count numbers. Similarly, in science I’m expected to know the solar system and indigenous people on history. After a certain module, we’re expected to answer an assessment and this thing called “grades” is the benchmark whether we passed or not. The thing is it ain’t perfect. Grades still serve its purpose, especially for kids. Kids needed a numbered assessment since they’re not yet mature enough to think philosophically. How about people who are in their teens?
If grades don’t define our success, then how can we measure ourselves if we’re doing well?
People get the wrong idea of grades. What we typically know is we’re only graded on written assessments and oral recitations but what grades don’t capture is the character of a person. More importantly, empathy. Every person is unique in their own ways and an assessment of one’s EQ is what makes the yin-yang. By the time a person enters college (or at least late high school), its the part in life wherein a person is on steroids. Energetic, passionate, healthy, creative, fewer obligations, fewer risks, whatever can be maximized. It’s a perfect opportunity for someone to take risks however, not everyone is courageous enough to do that.
“Get a real job and work for a big company,” they say. According to Time’s article, valedictorians don’t tend to be visionaries but rather just jump into the system and climb the status quo. The typical goal of a parent is to send their kids to school, graduate on time, work for a big company, and get promoted. In today’s generation, it just doesn’t work that way for everyone else. With the rise of the millennial generation full of creativity, people are willing to take more risks and work in their own direction. “Entrepreneurial” as they call it. People as early as mid-high school is already creating innovative solutions. The philosophy is starting to adapt from big companies like Google wherein they don’t require you to have a college degree to join their company. At the end of the day, we don’t care about grades, we care about creating value to society. You’re more known to your contributions than your straight-A’s.
Do you think its finally time to change the selection of a batch valedictorian to someone who made a significant value to society? I think so. We should make the schools aware that the best person they can pick is someone who knows how to break the rules (rationally of course). Someone who’s action-oriented and knows how to solve problems. Someone who’s motivated and shows great leadership. Instead of setting a motivation to read books and answer assignments, we can create more leaders for a better world. Who cares if you’re a dropout? If you can set a turning point on people, you’re more than enough to be a batch valedictorian. Grades? Please, nobody cares about that. We now live in a world where everyone wants to make a dent in society. Its time we revamp the educational system and create a better society.