Remi McKim, Journalist

Does Watching Your Grades Have an Impact on Your Mentality?

If you are a weird index of interesting anecdotes like I am, you are already aware of Schrödinger’s Cat. If you are a normal person who has not stumbled upon the John Green novel ‘Will Grayson’, then you do not know about Schrödinger or his cat. 

Here is the theory: if you put a cat in a box for a few days and do not check on the cat, the cat is both dead and alive.

Logically, it takes a moment to digest. How is something both alive and dead? According to John Green in ‘Will Grayson,’ “the theory that electrons are in all-possible-positions until they are measured, the cat is both alive and dead until we open the box and find out if it is alive or dead.” 

From an emotional standpoint, the theory is insane. Why would a person put a cat in a box for multiple days without food or water or air? Doesn’t the person feel empathy with this cat who is being stuffed into a box for days on end? Where did this cat come from? Did this person grab a random cat? Is this their pet cat?

This is my favorite theory. It can be applied to so many different subjects. Truly, it is not about the cat or the box—it is about your scope of knowledge, i.e. what you know and what you don’t know. If you do not observe something, it is both the outcome you want and the outcome you don’t want.

This theory can be applied to anything. If I stay up late but don’t look at the time, it is both 3AM and 10PM. If I eat a lot but don’t weigh myself, I am both the same weight and heavier. If I spend a lot of money but do not look at my bank account, I both spent a minimum amount of money and spent a lot. If I don’t look at my grades, I both have good grades and bad grades.

However, with most of these situations, curiosity wins over and you find out the time, your weight, the amount of money, the grades…

You check to see if the cat is dead or alive. 

With grades, this is a tricky circumstance. 

Many people face plenty of pressure in regards to their grades, whether it be from parents or themselves. Knowing a grade can directly affect how someone’s day will go, especially with the last day of school sneaking up on everyone. It can add to a person’s stress or relief. 

Depending on the test, results come out immediately or after days of waiting. A test on paper is scored by hand, with a teacher having multiple classes to grade. Most teachers trust paper tests since they can grade it themselves and not rely on a computer. Yet, these classes who use paper tests frequently use them so students can show their thought process visually, which often means that it is a harder class. Grades are ridiculously fertile based on if you did well or poorly. There is anxiety attached to not knowing how your grade will change after a test, especially in a hard class.

Part of the appeal of a test online is the instant knowledge of your score. However, I still wait a few extra minutes, even after double-triple-quadruple checking my answers, before turning it in. The anxiety wraps around everyone’s head like a fog that even the strongest wind can’t dissipate. There comes a moment when the only thing you can do is submit the assignment and avert your eyes when the score pops up.

This is the thing about human nature—as much as we want to know something, there is an innate desire to look away. Once you know something, there is no way to unknow. It is the same reason that people flock to the movie theaters when a new movie is released: so that we know what happens before spoilers eventually come out. 

So is it better to know or to leave the cat to be both dead and alive? 

Truly and unfortunately, there is no good answer. There is relief to be secure in your knowledge of something. The guessing game is over and the answer is revealed. However, without the answer, the hope for the response you wanted is still alive and thriving. 

The best thing you can do for yourself is understand your limits and whether or not it is more important to know your grades or hope for a good grade.