My doctoral work is positioned at the intersection of anthropology and philosophy and has two main objectives. Firstly, to ethnographically explore students’ lived experience of being graded in the context of German high school education and secondly, to draw on the empirical insights for fashioning a social epistemology of quantification which informs an ethics of numbers.
I understand the socio-cultural practice of grading as a form of “social quantification” which is here defined as the numerical expression of human characteristics, behaviour or performance.
Having been introduced to German schools in the late 16th century, grades long predate the current audit explosion and its numerical metrics. The school mark is both powerfully invested, playing a pivotal role in determining an individual’s academic and economic opportunities, and an inescapable component of most students’ everyday realities. Understanding how students navigate a context in which there exists a direct, compulsory and decisive link between and them and “their numbers” is the main objective of the doctoral project.