Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

But I tried, really I did, so can I have the "A", please?

This is scary, and I blame the bleeding-heart, liberally-minded educators for fostering this malarkey. HT to Slublog at AoSHQ for pointing this story out in today's New York Times:

Prof. Marshall Grossman has come to expect complaints whenever he returns graded papers in his English classes at the University of Maryland.

“Many students come in with the conviction that they’ve worked hard and deserve a higher mark,” Professor Grossman said. “Some assert that they have never gotten a grade as low as this before.”

He attributes those complaints to his students’ sense of entitlement.

“I tell my classes that if they just do what they are supposed to do and meet the standard requirements, that they will earn a C,” he said. “That is the default grade. They see the default grade as an A.”

Up to this point, I'm cool with this. Grades aren't to be handed out because you try. Losers try everyday and, well, lose. Winners try everyday, and they succeed. Simply put, I can try to work out a physics problem and nine times out of ten, I'm going to fail at it. Why? Because A) Math was never my strong suit, and B) When I did take physics in college, I barely passed it. Even now, I hardly remember it. But if you ask me a history question, or challenge me to lecture on the creation of the Constitution, I can do that with no problem. But what follows really ticks me off:

A recent study by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, found that a third of students surveyed said that they expected B’s just for attending lectures, and 40 percent said they deserved a B for completing the required reading.

Expected? Just for attending lectures? If it's required you attend a lecture, that's not exactly negotiable, especially if the professor demands you show up for his/her well-prepared lectures. And as for the reading, how else are you supposed to learn hat you're being taught if you don't do the reading? Are they trying to make the case of learning via osmosis?

“I noticed an increased sense of entitlement in my students and wanted to discover what was causing it” said Ellen Greenberger, the lead author of the study, called “Self-Entitled College Students: Contributions of Personality, Parenting, and Motivational Factors,” which appeared last year in The Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

Professor Greenberger said that the sense of entitlement could be related to increased parental pressure, competition among peers and family members and a heightened sense of achievement anxiety.

Um, it could also stem from the self-esteem BS pushed by the elementary, junior high, and high schools. The whole "You tried so you should be rewarded" crap has led these kids to believe that they're entitled to a grade they didn't earn. I can try all day to break down a physics problem and if I don't get it right, do I deserve a higher grade because I tried? Hell no. I didn't complete it correctly. Just because I show up doesn't mean I should be rewarded with a better grade.

Aaron M. Brower, the vice provost for teaching and learning at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, offered another theory.

“I think that it stems from their K-12 experiences,” Professor Brower said. “They have become ultra-efficient in test preparation. And this hyper-efficiency has led them to look for a magic formula to get high scores.”

Again, I'm going to call BS to that theory. I was raised in a house where to do better in school I had better be studying. Test preparation has little to do with their sense of entitlement. It stems, in my opinion, from the feel-good crap pushed by educators that every child tries, and none should fail. I mean, there are school districts across the country that have done away with grading papers in red ink because teachers are afraid that they'll hurt a student's self-esteem. Red, according to them, invokes feelings of failure, and a general feeling of criticism. Well DUH! That's what it's supposed to do to show the kids they made mistakes.

James Hogge, associate dean of the Peabody School of Education at Vanderbilt University, said: “Students often confuse the level of effort with the quality of work. There is a mentality in students that ‘if I work hard, I deserve a high grade.’ “

In line with Dean Hogge’s observation are Professor Greenberger’s test results. Nearly two-thirds of the students surveyed said that if they explained to a professor that they were trying hard, that should be taken into account in their grade.

Jason Greenwood, a senior kinesiology major at the University of Maryland echoed that view.

“I think putting in a lot of effort should merit a high grade,” Mr. Greenwood said. “What else is there really than the effort that you put in?”

Oh, I don't know. How about RESULTS, you twit. Results are the bottom line. Results in school, results in life, results in work. What you actually do, not how hard you tried. If I went to my boss everyday and said "Hey I tried, but I didn't get all my work done" how long do you think I'll last before I'm fired? Let me tell you, it wouldn't be long. My boss set out what is expected of me each and every day. I don't meet the goals, then I failed, and failure equals unemployment. The same goes in school. If the teacher assigns you work, and you don't do it, or don't do it right, the teacher should grade you accordingly.

“If you put in all the effort you have and get a C, what is the point?” he added. “If someone goes to every class and reads every chapter in the book and does everything the teacher asks of them and more, then they should be getting an A like their effort deserves. If your maximum effort can only be average in a teacher’s mind, then something is wrong.”

No, what's wrong is Mr. Greenwood being a twit about this. The question, Mr. Greenwood, are the results. Did the student do the work accurately and correctly? Did they do it in a slipshod fashion? Did they understand what they were reading/doing with the assignment in question. It's all about the bottom line, and if at the end of the day the results don't match what the teacher has demanded, then the grade should reflect that; the work involved, no matter how hard or easy, is irrelevant.

Sarah Kinn, a junior English major at the University of Vermont, agreed, saying, “I feel that if I do all of the readings and attend class regularly that I should be able to achieve a grade of at least a B.”

Yes, I'm sure Ms. Kinn feels that way, but again, my gripe is that these fools think that simply because they show up, and they do the work, that they deserve the grade based on their work and apparently not based on the results of said work. That's why I connect this entitlement BS with how these kids are taught and treated by educators as they go through their lives. Everything about their idea revolve around the point where educators decided self-esteem was trump over results.

That's not how the real world works, and we're turning these entitlement geniuses out of the schools, and letting them loose on the world. No wonder, as Slublog notes, this nation elected the idiot they did for president. He's a firm believer in entitlements (see the Pork-A-Palooza, and the drawdown of the cap on welfare, the increase in welfare monies, etc. for an example), and is willing to give all those who feel they're entitled to things regardless of whether or not they earned it, or if they merit it.

That which is given has no value was an axiom my grandfather used often. I heard it from him, from my father, from my mother, and even the good Sisters and good Brothers who taught me in school. They're right. That goes for what you have in life, such as a car or home, as well as how you get good grades. You're not given them. You earn them. These kids in school, and the professors in this piece in the New York Times would be wise to remember that. But, of course, if any of these professors are tenured, even if they don't do their work, they won't be fired.

Remember, they're entitled to their jobs even if the results don't meet the bottom line criteria set by the university or national standards. After all, the teachers tried, right?

Publius II


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