Re: grades

Steve Finley (Finley@TTDCE1.COED.TTU.EDU)
Wed, 28 Aug 1996 12:31:32 +0000

>From Mike Jackman:

"To extend the metaphor of grading - is non-verbal behavior a grade?
A teacher's shake of the head or spoken "No, that's not right" to a
student a bad grade? Is a job interview rejection a grade? If grade
rubrics are eliminated, aren't we still "graded" (judged) all the time in all
aspects of our lives? So in a sense, perhaps it is better to teach
persistence and confidence in the face of bad grades, humility
and skepticism in the face of good grades, of any kind, in any
situation. Paradoxically, a grading system gives you something to
work with to teach these lessons, and as long as an instructor's
discretion is preserved, grade appeals allowed. Isn't grading
a reflection of greater social forces we might live with?"

This is pretty close to a point I've made in a previous post,
something along these lines, comparing grading to Zen discipline: It's a
common mistake among pop-Zennists and/or beginners to see Zen as a
ticket to a free-for-all, undisciplined life and a, mushy,
undifferentiated view of the world around them. (Of course, a Taoist
would say, that's part of the flow, too, just like the more
disciplined way is.) But many experienced, traditional practitioners of
Zen (not that these are the only legitimate kind), especially in
Japan, find that the extreme rigor of the more traditional forms is
not something to be eliminated but to be accepted and detached from
and/or seen through (or something like that). It's only the attitude
toward the rigor that hurts, not the rigor itself. I think there's a good
analogy to grades here, and also to the further point that Mike J.
was making about evaluation in all areas of life and throughout one's
entire lifespan.

Fire away, Eric. . .

s finley