I did this illustration for a Time magazine article about grade inflation. The metaphor of the ladder works two ways because an A is also a ladder to success. But not all A's are created equal. Some teachers are kinder than others, some schools engineer grade points, and some students get a leg-up for very good reasons. I'm grateful for every leg-up I got. I know it was easier in my day. Competition for grades has become overheated. I can't remember if there was anything about learning in the article, but learning has become less important than the score. Things we learn under this kind of pressure tend to be forgotten quickly.