If I could give emojis instead of grades

A professor offers a more interesting alternative

Something playful this time. With so many horrible and tragic things happening in the world right now, mustering up a little laughter feels a bit like rebellion.

How can the exam be over? I just sat down.

I once suggested at a faculty meeting that we offer emojis rather than grades to evaluate student performance. To my utter astonishment, the university administration did not embrace my proposal. I have also never been invited back for any subsequent meetings. Strange, that. Nevertheless, undeterred by this lack of professional support, I now offer my revolutionary alternative to the world, for those who might wish to join me in my quest to transform the experience of education into something more creative and constructive.

What follows is a translation of sorts, with each grade from the old and outmoded “letter grade” system correspondingly paired with one from my newly-proposed “emoji grade” plan. These are accompanied by short explanations as they pertain to the assignment at hand, which in this case is an imaginary essay.

A+ 💉

If you are in a situation that involves a bloody syringe, especially one with blood dripping out of the syringe, and yet still have the presence of mind to text your friends about it, well, I’m impressed. Since A is already considered a perfect score, you’ve somehow managed to go beyond perfection. It’s like you reached the summit and then decided to climb a little higher. Congratulations on doing what for most people would be both flagrantly unnecessary and technically impossible.

A 🐝

Who knew an A could also be a bee? You are clearly industrious and hard-working, and the words of your finely-crafted text read as sweetly as honey. Definitely the bee’s knees. Sting would be impressed, as would poets, policemen, and politicians. If you get that reference I will throw in a bloody syringe for you.

A- 🇳🇵

Nepal is cool for so many reasons, one of them being that it has the only non-rectangular national flag in the world. Yet for some reason, the creators of this emoji decided to take Nepal’s non-rectangular flag and stick on a rectangle anyway. It’s like they had it right, but then decided to add something they shouldn’t have, and now it’s not right. Now it’s just distracting, perhaps even a little annoying. Sometimes less is more, but you opted for more. That’s why you’re getting less.

B+ 🍽

You’ve got cutlery and a plate, but something seems to be missing. Oh yes, the food, which if I remember correctly is a pretty important part of the meal. As I read your essay, I kept waiting for the intellectual food that never arrived. Plus I’m hungry now and it’s your fault.

B 🌦

There were moments where your brilliance tried to shine through, but somehow the rain and clouds never cleared. There’s not even a rainbow to offer some color, and in leaving out the rainbow, you’ve alienated all of your LGBTQ friends. You’ve got work to do.

B- 🙄

If you are going to take the time to write an essay that aspires to something good, you could at least follow through on it. An unfulfilled aspiration is like a frozen burrito you heated in the microwave, only to discover that the middle was still ice cold, but then you ate it anyway. Who does that? You, that’s who. You wrote well enough to let me know you cared and tried, but for some reason, you settled for mediocrity when you could have done so much more. Imagine you were invited to a Star Wars cosplay event, took the time to make make an elaborate costume, but then showed up dressed as Matt Damon in The Martian. This is why you always disappoint your friends.

C+ 💃🏽

I hope you had a good time when you decided to go out dancing the night before your essay was due. In fact I know you had a good time, because your essay shows clearly that you knew what you were supposed to do but gleefully chose not to do it anyway.

C 🍚

This is a bowl of white rice. By itself, it is remarkably bland and uninteresting. Just like your essay.

C- 🗿

There are many things about Rapa Nui (aka, Easter Island) that no one will ever understand. Similarly, there are many things in your essay that no one will ever understand, not even you. Your essay is an incomprehensible mystery. Unlike Rapa Nui, however, no one cares enough to solve the mystery, because they know there is neither reward nor meaning in trying to do so.

D+ 🍟

These are french fries. They are not a reward for turning in your essay. They are what you will be making for the rest of your life, should you continue with your current level of intellectual prowess.

D 💾

The floppy disk. So irrelevant and useless. Just like your essay.

D- 😂

I know you didn’t intend it, but your essay was hysterical. I and the millions of people who read it after I posted it on social media thank you for the inadvertent comic relief.

F 🦄

When you operate at this level, you live in a world that most of us never get to experience. Sure, I could write critical comments on your essay, give you all sorts of feedback about how you could improve your performance, and even offer stern warnings about your future. But I know that in your happy world, things like reason and intelligence and responsibility would seem somehow out of place, almost rude. Run free, my friend, in your imaginary kingdom, where unicorns saunter playfully through fragrant fields of weed, where the tequila flows like a gentle river through meadows of multi-colored flowers, whose petals eagerly open to reveal blossoms of sugar-scented shot glasses. Is it nap time again already?

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