Good Grades Don’t Guarantee Professional Success

· January 10, 2017

Have you ever heard about a famous person whose grades in school left much to be desired? It seems impossible to think that someone who has achieved professional success wasn’t a great student academically, although this is something that happens quite often. The truth is that the grades you get at an early age have very little to do with success.

Stephen Hawking started to read when he was eight years old.

People like Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, and Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, weren’t exactly outstanding students. And what can we say of Nobel Prize for Literature winner Joseph Brodsky? His teachers didn’t know what to do anymore to improve his classwork and grades. Perhaps intelligence and great ideas don’t have anything to do with good grades in school.

The success of less outstanding students

Many successful people who weren’t notable for their grades give us an idea of the world and how it really is. Our parents and professors demand that we get good grades because, according to them, that will open many doors for us and bring us where we want to go. But does that mean the worst students can’t be successful? Is there even such a thing as bad students?

The method of teaching in schools hasn’t changed much in recent years. Students continue to learn names and dates without knowing what that’s going to do for them beyond getting good grades on exams. As a consequence, they spend hours in class looking around, feeling bored, and even sleeping.

This lack of dynamism and motivation causes many good students to completely disengage from their academic work.

boy with questions

Most of them get frustratedthinking that they aren’t good enough to get the job they really want and making excuses for not achieving dreams. Others, however, think of an idea and see it through to the very end, as far-fetched as it might seem. If it motivates them and they like it, why not do it? Why not believe in themselves?

Albert Einstein’s teachers complained because he thought too much before answering a question. This made them think he was slow.

We weren’t all made for studying, because we’re often learning things we don’t like. We’re limited by how we’re taught, which prevents us from being able to learn what really interests us. Getting bad grades doesn’t mean that you’re less intelligent than everyone else. You just haven’t found what truly motivates you and what you’d really like to learn.

Notice that grades are just numbers that label you as failing, sufficient, good, or excellent. Doing well on an exercise or an exam doesn’t make you more intelligent, it just means you knew how to complete it in the best way, or more importantly, the way the teacher wanted.

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Lack of creativity in schools

At this point, we’re all aware that if people who have been creators of such outstanding brands and winners of the Nobel Prize have been successful despite not getting good grades, you can too. The only thing missing was that creative impulse that allowed them to take advantage of their potential.

But creativity isn’t harnessed enough in schools. Every student studies in the same way, but not every student is the same! Some have a better visual memory, others find history much easier, and many more need to be given free reign of their creativity and genius. All of these students could excel.

child airplane rainbow

Despite the lack of creativity in schools and the insistence on following obsolete academic programs, the good news is that getting bad grades doesn’t make you a less intelligent person, and it doesn’t mean you have less of a chance of becoming successful.

On the contrary, it seems like the people who stood out less in school are the ones who have been able to harness their creativity after leaving the classroom and change the world with their designs and innovations.

Charles Darwin’s teachers said that he was below the common standards of intelligence and a disgrace to his family.

If you’re one of these people, now you know that there are no obstacles. You’ve been taught to fear them, but they don’t exist if you don’t want them to. Maybe you’ve realized that once you left school, you found that everything they told you wasn’t helpful or wasn’t for you. Maybe they discriminated against your writing or didn’t value your drawings. Maybe when they asked you what you wanted to be, and you answered “model” or “astronaut,” they looked at you like you were crazy.

boy thinking about equations

But they were the crazy ones for not believing in you. If you wanted to achieve something and you had the will to do so, the least they could have done with someone of that age – and any age, but especially when you had so much ahead of you – was encourage you. It’s true that you’ll face frustrations and make mistakes, and there will be times when you’ll want to throw in the towel, but there will also be precious moments and great learning experiences along the way.

Now, think about the kids who go, and will go, to school every day feeling like they’re wasting time. Do they not deserve a real opportunity and a smart and well-designed curriculum that helps them develop their potential? Whether you have kids or not, education is everyone’s responsibility, and therefore, its design is, too.

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