Monday, February 16, 2009


I was having a conversation with a friend yesterday about geneivas daas. We got to talking about the rather dishonest feeling you can have as a student when you know you didn't complete all the work for a class and yet you still get an A. Now, granted, you don't always know what you're getting an A for - maybe the teacher was grading you more on your paper writing skills than on whether or not you actually completed all the reading for class. Either way, though, it still feels wrong to get a grade you don't think you deserve (although, of course, most students wouldn't go up to a teacher and say, "Um, I actually didn't complete all the work for the class so can you please lower my grade?) - though is that on the student or on the teacher? Teachers claim they aren't stupid - that they're aware of everything that goes on in the classroom.

So what we talked about next was - what if a teacher is a very easy grader? I've gotten A's on essays before where I felt it wasn't deserved. Does that mean I'm a harsher grader than my own teachers? What if I would not have given myself an A? The grade seems cheap, unearned, misrepresentative of my capabilities. It makes me feel like either the teacher has very low expectations or she doesn't think I can do any better but is too nice and wants me to do well in the class. Or perhaps I just have extremely high expectations of myself?

But then that affects my GPA. So now I have A's in classes where I would not necessarily have given myself an A. Sure, I was able to play the system and do the minimal amount of work possible while still doing well. But, deep down, I don't feel I deserved such grades. (By the way, I'm not talking about every class - I'm not that bad a student! Just a few here and there.) So if I apply somewhere and they see a transcript that I don't feel is a fair representation of that geneivas daas on the teacher's part? To raise my overall GPA by giving out easy A's? Some teacher do that for the whole class - they can't bear to give anyone too low of a grade.

I will say this, to all the many teachers out there reading my blog (...joke), you're only hurting your students by giving away A's so freely. In the classes where I know I can get away with doing almost nothing and still do well, I'm not motivated to do very much. It's the tough classes, the ones that really push me, that I actually learn in. Though I suppose that's a different point.

My point is - it's geneivas daas on the student to pretend she did the work when she didn't. But is it geneivas daas on the teacher to give out A's so easily? Isn't that how grade inflation came about, anyway?

1 comment:

Princess said...

I think that "easy" teachers are in a difficult situation, especially in college, in that a lot of students, when given a choice, would rather take a class where they are more likely to get a good grade over a class where the teacher pushes them harder and they might not do as well. There are, of course, students who like to take the so-called "hard" teachers, but I think many teachers realize that those students are in the minority and some teachers succumb to the pressure and are more lenient in their grading in order to make taking their class more appealing to all students. It's unfortunate, but some teachers do sacrifice standards to make themselves more popular (for lack of a better word).

And in terms of your transcript not being a fair representation of you . . . in an interview, you can always say that you don't think your grades are totally representative of your work in a class. You might not want to say that you don't think you deserve an A, but you can probably say something about the fact that you hold yourself to a higher standard than some of your teachers may have, and people might actually be impressed by the fact that you expect more from yourself than others expect from you.
That might not have made any sense . . . but hopefully it did.