Grades should be abolished.

Disclaimer: Much of this post doesn’t talk about grades and the reasoning only ties in to reflect grades near the end. The reason the title of this post talks about grades is because the abolition of grades will signify that some major problems plaguing the public school system have been addressed.

Recently I’ve had quite a lot of homework. This mostly is my fault due to procrastination; things I had weeks to work on, I chose to save for the last minute. But I’m not the only person I know who doesn’t procrastinate; nearly every kid who goes to school tends to procrastinate their homework, and this is the first time I really mean all schools when I say school, not just public schools. This is mostly because people don’t view homework as something worth doing.

When I see something worth doing, I will usually start on it pretty soon and worry about the nitty-gritty later. This is because the things I want to do are usually worth doing; I would not be so eager to start doing something I didn’t want to. Conversely, I worry more about the details for things I don’t want to do (see homework). I will usually postpone it and get ideas for it (if it requires and usage of brain cells) without putting them into action. So what does this mean for homework? It’s one of the things we’d like to have done, but that we never do until we absolutely have to. Usually, the reason we do homework is because we have to; and for those who say “You can choose not to do your homework,” that’s akin to saying “You can choose to abandon your future by pushing your car off a cliff.” That’s not a choice. Wrecking your car would make your wallet unhappy, and wrecking your grades would make your future unhappy.

But school should be a time to experiment with what matters to you; children don’t know what they want to do in the future (usually), so they have a place that is supposed to be convenient to experiment. Instead we get the opposite; experimentation is discouraged, and conformity is a must. There are many problems with school, including the extremely short periods we have to work with, stupid spirit days, “core” classes being mandatory, and this comes together to penalize motivation.

However, examples of schools that are starting at better situations and have fewer problems exist; the example I use is the CACC of Pleasanton. Nothing’s perfect, but doing something like that – or doing anything, really, is a long shot better than what we have now.

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What’s Your Time Worth?

Time

We often hear people say something to the effect of “I just spent 3 hours of my life reading Quora/Facebook/Instagram.”  These statements seem innocuous enough; we all have our guilty pleasures which we waste asinine amounts of time on. And it seems fine to us! Instagram is a free social media service, and we aren’t paying by the minute to read what our friends posted. But this isn’t true in the slightest; we are paying a minute by the minute.

Value

Why do I value time so much? Some people argue time is money; and this is certainly a good analogy for not wasting time, especially if you are frugal. I argue that time is potential for change. Time, in its purest, is potential. You cannot do anything meaningful without spending time, and it’s probably difficult as well to do something meaningless without spending much time as well.

But the analogy with money is the best to conceptualize time with. If you approximate how much each hour of your time is worth with money (in my case, it’d probably be around $20 dollars), we can make some surprising changes.

“I spent 3 hours on Quora” becomes “I paid $60 to read a couple of posts to mildly entertain myself.”

“I slept in for an hour” becomes “I paid $20 because I didn’t want to deal with life.”

“I decided to binge 10 episodes of Rick and Morty” becomes “I paid $65 to watch a show about an old grandpa and a dimwitted kid explore the galaxy in a sci-fi comedy.”

If we up the scale, even more surprising/outrageous statements can be made.

“I hate going to school” becomes “I’m being forced to spend $36000 on something and I hate it.”

“I went to prison and served a year of time” becomes “I was fined $175200 for something I didn’t do.”

Of course, money and time aren’t this similar. Time is something that cannot be invested, saved (most of the time), etc, but the most important difference is you can’t take back spent time.

Investments

The value of your time is not constant. I’d imagine the time Bob has as a researcher is more valuable than the time he was a baby. Conversely, the time Bob was a baby is probably more valuable than the time he spends in school. So spending time to make your time more valuable is one of the best uses of your time.

This is why it’s so important to spend time learning. (I really hope school doesn’t use this quote; as a disclaimer, school is awful because you feel like you learned, but you really didn’t.) This, I also suspect, is why kids and parents (mostly parents) think doing math makes you smart; survivorship bias plays a role, and they see how valuable the time of the “smart kids” is.

Also, this is why writing is important; the easier you see things, the faster your time becomes worth more. Writing isn’t about explaining to someone else, it’s about clarifying your own thoughts to yourself.

Chunks

What I find awfully annoying is people deciding to split my time into pieces. This is the biggest reason why I really despise school, if you don’t count the administration. I think my first post goes over this in a little more detail.

When your parents give you a chore to do in a 3-hour study session that takes 10 minutes, you aren’t left with 2 hours and 50 minutes. You are left with two chunks of 1 hour and 25 minutes. There really is a difference! I’d like to present the following example: Let’s say you play video games for 1 minute, then you do math for 1 minute, and so on for around an hour. I think you’d have a much better time playing Smash for 1 hour and doing math for 1 hour, don’t you think?

And this isn’t some extreme work of fiction; this is called multitasking. This dilution of your time makes it less valuable, just like diluting gold/silver/etc makes it less valuable. People are prone to multitasking, so the best way is probably to reduce the amount of things you need to do. This is why I do as little homework as I can get away with for some classes; I’m still in middle school, so most grades don’t count for HS.