Thursday, November 13, 2008

New Grading Policy

I told this to my students today. Seriously.

"Starting January 20th, I'm going to have a new grading policy. No one really needs above an 85%. That's a solid B, which is good enough. In fact, if you got above a 90% (A), you probably did something disingenuous to get that grade. So from January 20 onward, I'm going to take points away from anyone above an 85% and give them to failing students with scores below 60%. That way everyone can pass whether they have earned it or not."

The response was hilarious. A few students thought it was a good idea. (Can you guess which ones?) The majority, however, thought it was ludicrous and totally unfair. One said, "Well, in that case, I'll just quit trying to do any better than an 85." Another commented, "If I can't fail, then why should I care? This is great."

When I told my students I was only joking, a few of them--very few of them--caught on to my pun.

I then asked students in my third-period chemistry class, "If you paid someone $75 for new shoes, did they scam you and rip you off? Do they owe you money back, since they're now $75 wealthier, and you're $75 poorer?" They all said no, that it was fair for them to receive the money in exchange for the shoes. Everyone benefited. So why is it that we think it's unfair when someone sells a lot of shoes to willing customers? Why does he suddenly owe everyone else?

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