The world is increasingly becoming competitive in terms of aspirations to smartness. This is characterized by the digital shift of technology towards smart devices that attach a certain kind of intelligence to both work and leisure. Human processes, therefore, need to be smart, where students are expected to be smart in a show of intelligence (Mitchell 128). The 'smartness mandate' proposed seeks to initiate a shift in asking crucial questions such as the exact definition of smartness, where it happens, what it does, its uses and its goals. Smartness is grasped based on its ultimate values and end goals (Mitchell 129).
In reference to the American Dream and the aspirations of citizens and non-citizens towards the same, the admission of students into institutions of higher learning is necessary. This is concerning the 'completion agenda' which proposes policies geared towards the initiative of increasing the number of young people attaining college degrees and certificates. This is a goal that seems almost impossible to reach as students continuously face disruptions in the access and success of education (Hegedus, Carlone & Carter 4). However, even though this were achievable, college certificates and degrees are unequal when it comes to employers, further advancing the inequality gap in existence due to inequitable employment opportunities and pay. This begs the question of whether higher education plays its role in the economy within the educational structure.
The country has a surging increase in the number of expensive private schools coming up and the stark differences between urban and semi-urban public schools, which increase the economic and social inequities within the education system. Higher education is deemed more equitable as it is provided at low costs within the 52 countries. This open-access system, however, impacts negatively on postsecondary education because the opportunities availed to students with differing academic performance are unequal (Hegedus, Carlone & Carter 6). The system is set to work in such a way that students with good grades are invested in by the education system while poor performing students are least invested in. This inequality demeans the efforts of the education system in bringing about social and economic equality.
The grading system merely identifies and celebrates smartness in students based on performance levels. What should be the focus of the education system is the cultivation and development of smartness. To ensure this, regular information concerning the changing and development of students should be availed. This would be influential in shifting the attention of colleges towards the learning process. Colleges and Universities seem to be more focused on attaching value to smartness rather than developing it. This is based on the fact that these higher institutions are engaged in competition to take on the smartest students in a bid to achieve or maintain high repute (Astin 15). This translates into a failure to educate, equip and teach qualities that mold young people into responsible citizens (Astin 37).
Institutions of higher learning are often interpreted regarding their quality and excellence based on the test results of students such as in the SATs. The focus is on the average test scores attained by the entering students as compared to the test scores in other institutions, as compared to the education process rolled out (Astin 23). The preoccupation of higher institutions with the acquisition of the smartest students shortchanges students by not dwelling on whether and how the learning process is facilitated (Astin 25). Institutions use these standardized test scores in the student selection process and the assessment of the learning and growth processes over the course of their study.
Grades and Grade Point Average (GPA) do not indicate students' mastery of knowledge. This score points only compare students at a single point in time. Smartness is determined by grades and test scores, and as such, it is construed as a social construct that demarcates the students to pursue tough courses in the sciences and engineering compared to other students. It was recommended that the correct comparison should be that of students by themselves at different points in time (Astin 41). There is a need for a shift in the education process towards the learning process in assessments based on ranking, rating, comparison, and judgment of students' smartness. The paradigm of higher institutions would, therefore, shift towards excellence based on education effectiveness rather than recruitment of the smartest students and the reputation of these institutions. Smartness is also the displaying of knowledge through the right answer and has no relation whatsoever to important aspects of smart humans such as creativity, critical thinking, good decision-making skills, problem-solving skills, talent, and social skills.
Students have conformed to the standards placed upon them that demand them to be 'good' and 'smart.' They can determine the smartest students in the class and position themselves on the smartness scale based on these students. Students with poor performance are often depicted based on their determination of 'struggling' and whether they are 'getting' the concepts being taught. These struggling students are those who are assumed to be inattentive, slow in processing and experience difficulty in making connections. This leaves the premise for such students to challenge the concept of smartness and surprise other stakeholders. It is thus conclusive that grades have no relation whatsoever to smartness.
Astin, Alexander W. "Are You Smart Enough?: How Colleges' Obsession with Smartness Shortchanges Students." Liberal Education 103.2 (2017): n2.
Hegedus, Tess Anne, Heidi B. Carlone, and Aundrea D. Carter. "Shifts in the cultural production of "smartness" through engineering in elementary classrooms." Proceedings of the annual meeting of the American Society of Engineering Education. Indianapolis, IN. 2014. Pg 1-7.
Mitchell, Robert. "Smartness, Contemplation, and Slow Research." Journal of Literature and Science 10.2 (2017). Pg 128-139.
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