Given, received, earned

New York Times on class grades

I must say that as someone who did not receive great grades for a time in college, since turned it around and desires to teach, the entitlement of students in infuriating. When I was not getting the grades, I knew full well that I was not trying my hardest and for whatever reason this was simply acceptable; when I cared about grades, I made them.

The average grade, or rather the grade that should be attainable with only attending class (note no preconception about attention therein), and doing most of the reading should be a C. This does not account for studying, paying attention in class, asking questions and generally caring. If a professor suddenly has a class wherein no-one is getting better than that, perhaps the guidelines or subject audience needs to be addressed; on the flip side, if attending class (usually) and doing the readings alone is enough for an A, then the effort and dedication of the students deserving an A is for naught. If college is preparation for the real world, how is coddling students with preposterous curves or no challenge supposed to do that? There is no magic formula, but hard work on the right projects will, ultimately, provide success. As my father always imparted to me, half of all schooling is to determine what course your work will need to take to provide success, be it memorization, thesis paper writing or anything else.

Don’t get me wrong, I think every student should endeavour for that A, I just think that they must also go searching for it. No matter what level the students are operating at. Entitlement produces frustrated students and parents, in some ways whom are worse than the students themselves. I don’t have the solution to this problem, all I know is that if teachers at all levels must instill that good work is not easy to come by and therefore should be rewarded. Effort is invaluable, if only because it is the path to the the product, but the product itself is what is graded.

One thought on “Given, received, earned

  1. Like it or not, much of our culture seems to be one of entitlement and instant gratification. I’ve noticed that among my admittedly small MA program here in England, people don’t think they’re entitled to a grade. Most people did a little worse than they’d have liked, but no one complained, all just resolved to work harder on the next one. Maybe it’s because our grades are independently arbitrated and we have no one to complain to. I know a certain prof told me several times that he almost dreads the first test because he’ll always have endless complaints from students who get their first C. I know a lot of teachers these days and the parents are worse than the children; it’s very hard to tell a parent that their kid isn’t the most brilliant when they’re convinced that he/she is perfect and thus must be earning an A+ regardless of what they’ve done.

    Personally, if I do badly, I don’t complain about it. I don’t think I ever had and I only would if I suspected foul play, like if the TA was biased or something (has never happened). I just resolve to do better and work harder.

    That article, btw, implies that even if you work hard you should only receive an A if you’re brilliant. I’m not sure how I feel about that, but I’m sure that idea won’t be instilling the values you describe. What if you just aren’t intelligent enough to make the grade, as you say, but you’re always trying harder than all the other students? Entitlement is wrong, but hard work should always be rewarded in some fashion.


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