18 March 2012

The ‘invisible religion’ of the grade-conscious - INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos

The writer discusses the "invisible religion" grade conscious students create and its probable social consequences. I couldn't agree with the author more! He really has good point, so I am sharing his work to you from its original link. Enjoy. :) - rah

The ‘invisible religion’ of the grade-conscious - INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos
by: Gerry Lanuza

SO YOU think that student with lower mental abilities are the ones who usually cheat in school? You're wrong! Researchers have suggested that students who have higher goals and experience higher pressure to succeed are more likely to cheat.

Cheating in itself is a form of religion if one follows Kierkegaard's definition of the "religious." For cheating suspends the ethical demands of a student in the name of a higher "cause." Of course, that's a perverse rendering of Kierkegaard's analysis of Abraham"' faith. But cheating is just the tip of the iceberg. For it is being grade-conscious that is the "true" religion.

If we define religion, in the manner of Paul Tillich, as "the state of being grasped by an ultimate concern, a concern which qualifies all other concerns as preliminary and which itself contains the answer to the question of a meaning of our life," then, indeed being grade-conscious is a form of religion. (This is just the existentialist way of paraphrasing Matthew 6:21: "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.") Religion demands martyrdom. Students are willing to commit suicide because they would rather be dead than live a meaningless life with a grade point average lower than 95.

Like any religion, being grade-conscious has its doctrine: Grades are objective, and a teacher's personality does not count for she is just an instrument for dispensing the sacrament of grades (Catholic doctrine of ex opere operato).

It has also its myths: Grades are the ticket to success, grades define one being, and they predict one's income later. Next, rituals: Students collect their class cards, compute and compare it with others, and they are signed by parents.
Prayer is the most important element of ritual. Students offer supplications to their teachers and school administrators. Countless letters and appeals pile up in the principal?s office before graduation. Why? Because students believe that miracles can happen (who knows whether the graduation committee will allow a student to graduate with honors even if she has a grade of 3 in PE or if it will let a pregnant girl graduate with honors.).

Grades also have an experiential dimension, transforming the lives of students and making them competitive, aggressive and ever watchful of the behavior of their classmates and teachers. It affords them what Abraham Maslow calls the "peak experience" or ecstasy.

Grades can either be depressant or stimulant. But like any other entheogenic drugs that induce a religious high, they can become addictive as a stimulant. Their depressing effects usually lead students to detach themselves from the rat race of the academic jungle to avoid further pressures (the nominal or the ritualist students). The grade dependents or the "religious" however cannot live without the competition and the rewards.

Finally, grades have their own community dimension: families celebrate their children's success, special gifts are given to students with honors, trophies and medals are dispensed sacramentally, and the "chosen ones" are recognized through elaborate rituals at the end of the school year.

All religions have an Apocalypse or stories about the end times. Students only find out about the true meaning of grades when they graduate and they are already working. They realize, quite painfully at first, that grades are not as important as the skills they have, the social networks they are connected to, and of course the kind of schools they went to. And yet, ironically, these same students who have gone to the other side, who have seen the obnoxious face of the promised "beatific vision" continue to indoctrinate their children into the "invisible religion" of their great ancestors. Thus, passing successfully the memes of the grade-conscious.

As a Marxist Christian educator, I have to struggle against this kind of idolatry that obliges students and teachers to embrace this false "invisible religion." But as a Marxist, I see this "invisible religion" as a mere imaginary flower in the chain of contradictions that is generated by the primary contradictions in our society. Our competitive society is becoming more and more obsessed with being on top so that many young people are very willing to make the
leap of faith" to any religion that can promise them cheap grace!

Happy graduation to all the believers!

Gerry M. Lanuza is an associate professor at the Department of Sociology, University of the Philippines in Diliman, where he teaches Sociology of Religion, among other subjects


Si Inong ay ako said...

great work. Thanks for sharing!

khantotantra said...

agree ako. hindi lahats ng so-so at mababa ang score ang nagchecheat. Pati yung matatalino. kasi gusto nila mamaintain ang rank.

McRICH said...

pero hindi naman ako nagcheat dati a, i think mali yang article, wahaha :)

Rah said...

@McRich, Hehe ako din eh. hahaha

Superjaid said...

yeah tama naman to pero di naman nilahat kaya ayos na talaga ko sa pinagsasabi nya hehehe =D

Superjaid said...

mahirap talaga kung grade concious ka..minsan nga kahit walang nampepressure sa kanya pressured pa rin eh. dahil sa sarili nila. tsk dapat pinaghirapan mo ang grades mo yun ang importane

Rah said...

@superjaid, oo nga. tsaka kahit naman assuming na naging mini religion na nga ang pagiging grade conscious. wala namang masama dito. Lahat naman may freedom to believe - and to act on one's belief. :)

Anonymous said...

nalala ko tuloy yung classmate ko na cum laude si K

alam namin na cheater sya (leakage from her friends sa ibang block na naunang mag take ng exam)

sad kase nung tinawag sya sa stage para sa recognition, konti lang ang pumalakpak tapos yung katabi ko nagtatawa pa

pero dahil super mabait sya sa akin, biased ako.

i think yun ang talino nya. yung diskarte ... at karisma din kasi willing mga friends nya na bigyan sya ng leakage.

sa kabilang banda naman si *U, cum laude din.

actually maraming inis at asar sa kanya. naging ka-group ko sya sa business proposal. lahat kami inaaway nya kasi ayaw daw nya madamay sa kabobohan namin. hahaha! pauso yun eh

pero nung tinawag sya sa stage, palakpakan naman mga estudyante. kasi alam namin deserving sya. mataray lang pero definitely hindi sya cheater.

i think yung mga cheaters sila ang tunay na madiskarte

LOL i-promote ba???

hindi naman

sa observation ko kasi, sila yung mas successful kasi malakas ang loob hindi lang sa pandaraya kundi sa lahat ng bagay.

teka ... hindi ako cheater ha. masyado akong nerbyosa for that eh

pero yun nga ... ang point ko lang ... in reality hindi lahat ng cheater grade-conscious

more on social status ang motivation, sa palagay ko lang naman

parang pag dean's lister sikat daw kasi ... ganun

daldal ko talaga


Rah said...

@s yung mga taong matatalino daw, sila ang more likely magbreak ng law. Kaya nga si Jesus, matalino talaga, kasi dinefy niya pati ang state.

therefore, mas malamang na ang isang criminal, hindi bobo. (?) hehe

at mas malamang na ang mabait, hindi matalino(?)

pero mas nakakatakot yung mga matalino na mukhang bobo, at yung mga bobo na mukhang matalino, criminal na mukhang innosente, at mga inosente na criminal talaga.

Sa panahon ngayon, marami ng species na nagsusulputan.

In the end of the day, sila ang magsusurvive.

something like that..

Seamus said...

remember our qualms back in high school bro?

that students shouldn't be "graded" na parang vegetables or meats.

class a, top 1, star section, etc...that's the problem with the restricted system of education today. failing to acknowledge the innate talents and skills of low graded students.

Seamus said...

pati absentee students.

there are those na pumapasok nga araw araw just to pass but really haven't learned anything, and there are those who already mastered the subject but fails because of not attending all of the classes.

Rah said...

oo nga. Students shouldn't be classified according to grades. Nagiging bias ang teacher. At the end of the day, mas importante kung anong ginagawa mo sa natutunan mo. Yung iba ang dami nga alam PERO SA ARMCHAIR LANG.

POY said...

im not sure if ang nabasa ko tungkol sa morality eh pasok dito sa cheating na yan. there are two things to consider kasi daw, if u cheat para pumasa ka and definitely u will not put down the expectation of ur parents. second if ayaw mo magcheat at bumagsak ka then pano ba yon uulit ka next sem? so which is moral ba dun sa dalawa? hehehehhe