Teacher Tells Graduating Seniors: You Are Not Special - Page 2 - U2 Feedback

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Old 06-14-2012, 04:31 PM   #16
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The problem with grade inflation is that it runs rampant in the elite private schools like Harvard, Yale, etc. Which then means that those students are the ones who will be populating most of the elite medical schools, law schools, business schools and graduate programs. And then you have a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You can make the argument that those schools have already "vetted" the students and that somebody at the bottom of Harvard's class is still better than somebody who is mid-range at a state school, but it isn't always true and it really wasn't my experience in the work force.
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Old 06-14-2012, 08:35 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by maycocksean View Post
Well said.

I wrote something similar on my blog a few months ago. It's nothing special

Just my take on the same theme, inspired by a particularly difficult student who was encouraged in the belief by the folks at home that she was special.

Here's the link for those interested: Here in America: Special
I enjoyed your article. I would rather have replied there than here, but couldn't quite figure it out (drunk, with a toothache) cause it seemed more appropriate. It's nice to be able to follow you somewhere.

I never thought I was special. I always thought special was what you did, not what you were. Always thought I had to earn special. But I got a pass on unique.
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Old 06-14-2012, 08:37 PM   #18
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I enjoyed your article. I would rather have replied there than here, but couldn't quite figure it out (drunk, with a toothache) cause it seemed more appropriate. It's nice to be able to follow you somewhere.

I never thought I was special. I always thought special was what you did, not what you were. Always thought I had to earn special. But I got a pass on unique.
Thanks for reading. Hope the toothache is feeling better and the hangover was mild
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Old 06-14-2012, 08:41 PM   #19
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You have no idea how much I had to edit my above post. I do not type well drunk. I do drive better. Truly. Scary, huh? But I've stopped that. I'll let you know how the toothache is when the drunk is done.
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Old 06-14-2012, 10:03 PM   #20
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Grade inflation is a bit of a canard these days. It's vastly more difficult to get into top tier colleges than it used to be. It's an incredibly competitive world. It makes sense that most students in competitive colleges actually are working harder and are much, much more aware if their GPAs than in decades past. People forget what "the Gentleman's C" was actually about.
In high school when I told my counselor what schools/programs I wanted to apply to, he gave some copies of the high school's grading scale since some of the schools were ones that no one from my HS had applied to in recent years. I'm not sure if this still happens but when I graduated there were schools giving out 4.1, 4.2, etc and ironically many of these schools had graduation rates below 70% and seniors that could barely read above a fifth grade level. At my school a 4.0 was perfect, meaning you got 100%. I think I graduated with a 3.9 and I was an A/A- (97-100%) student all four years. My parents slaved away so that we could go to a very good private school, but without any context my 3.9 was "meh" next to a 4.3.

The inflation problem and attitude that everyone has to feel awesome all the time permeates beyond school. In the world of German Shepherd dog trialing we have the same problem with Schutzhund (our sport of tracking, obedience, and protection). Scores are getting inflated and now getting a great score and a top TSB (fighting drive) rating no longer means anything because it doesn't set you apart. There was recently a good article in one of the Schutzhund magazines about how a few decades ago, a really good, strong dog got "G" (gut/good) and "SG" (sehr gut/very good) scores and the trainers/handlers were perfectly happy with that. Now everyone is obsessed with getting "V" (96-100) ratings and training dogs to be really flashy and precise. The training has certainly come a long way but the dogs themselves are weaker and dumber.
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Old 06-14-2012, 11:13 PM   #21
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I do not type well drunk. I do drive better. Truly. Scary, huh?
What a truly fucking idiotic thing to say
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Old 06-14-2012, 11:37 PM   #22
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In high school when I told my counselor what schools/programs I wanted to apply to, he gave some copies of the high school's grading scale since some of the schools were ones that no one from my HS had applied to in recent years. I'm not sure if this still happens but when I graduated there were schools giving out 4.1, 4.2, etc and ironically many of these schools had graduation rates below 70% and seniors that could barely read above a fifth grade level. At my school a 4.0 was perfect, meaning you got 100%. I think I graduated with a 3.9 and I was an A/A- (97-100%) student all four years. My parents slaved away so that we could go to a very good private school, but without any context my 3.9 was "meh" next to a 4.3.


this is where standardized testing has it's place. sure, it's flawed, and it really measures how you took the test, but at least everyone is taking the same test.

i went to a high school where A's were tough to achieve, particularly in the honors/AP classes -- but test scores were sky high, both on statewide achievement tests as well as SAT's. i could name at least a dozen of my classmates who had an 800 on either the math or the verbal, and there were a few perfect SATs. and college admissions officers, at least at highly competitive schools, should be equipped to know the difference.

while legacies do enjoy some preferential treatment in admissions, it's nowhere near what it was when, say, in the 1950s and 60s when surname Bush (or others) guaranteed you admission to any school of your choice in any field. it's vastly more meritocratic, and i'd imagine your median student today is churning out higher quality work than your median student was in 1965. back then, they didn't have women to compete with for admissions, just for starters.

agreed with the "everyone is awesome" mentality and how that needs to end. i think there's merit to giving people individualized feedback, good or bad, to show that a coach or a teacher is paying attention and is valuing students and is taking an active interest in how we are all unique. it drives me nuts when i hear parents exclaiming, "WOW! GOOD JOB BUDDY!" at everything their kid does. i think it's much more meaningful to say, "you did some careful work building that sandcastle" or "i like how you shared your toy" or "i thought your third flipturn looked really good and that's where you made up time in the race" to be much more meaningful, especially for the kid. hearing "WOW BUDDY GOOD JOB" all the time seems almost like disinterest. praise effort, not outcome, to show how outcome is dependent upon effort.

i dunno, rambling. i should go to bed.
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Old 06-15-2012, 12:56 AM   #23
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This discussion of marks just reminds me of a couple of American exchange students I knew who had a really hard time adjusting to the fact that at Australian universities, 75-79% is considered a pretty good mark and ≥80% is excellent. When they got their first assessments back, they were disappointed to get an 80% - and then very confused to see Aussie students congratulating each other on getting 77%.

Now when I'm tutoring and have any exchange students, I take them aside to make sure they're aware of how we mark. Usually they're not, and are very grateful to know that 72%, rather than being a bad mark, is actually our average. I'm surprised they're not actually told this sort of thing ahead of time.

What has struck me, though, from all of these conversations is how normal ≥90% is taken to be by Americans and it makes me wonder 1. how inflated the marks are and 2. if most of the rating scale below 70% or even 80% is simply not used, because that's how it sounds. I know barely anybody here who has got over 90% for an item of assessment, and in my own marking I probably only give it to one in twenty or thirty essays.
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Old 06-15-2012, 01:21 AM   #24
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What a truly fucking idiotic thing to say
What a truly unnecessary thing to say.
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Old 06-15-2012, 01:25 AM   #25
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What a truly unnecessary thing to say.
You don't think someone bragging about drinking and driving deserves to be ridiculed?
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Old 06-15-2012, 01:46 AM   #26
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This may be totally unrelated, because it's not about grades so much as positive/negative feedback—but as a college student, I feel like when teachers or other people in the critique position give only negative feedback, it's really difficult to be productive. If people say only, 'what you're doing is shit,' instead of being helpful, it just...stops all motivation.

But more ontopic—It's a well enough crafted speech, and I agree with most of it. But I'd be really irritated if I had to sit through this guy's speech, because just as many kids whose opinions of themselves and their work are inflated, there are probably kids who've just been receiving the negative feedback and don't need to sit through it, truthful or no. People aren't special? Yeah, been informed of that. I think kids are smart enough to figure it out.

It's probably difficult to think of graduation statements. Most of the ones I've heard that stick with people are the cynical ones like this, that acknowledge that the world isn't a fair place, you're gonna have to work hard for a mediocre life and harder to be perceived as talented, etc. I mean, how to be realistic about the world students are heading into?
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Old 06-15-2012, 06:25 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Jive Turkey View Post
You don't think someone bragging about drinking and driving deserves to be ridiculed?

I didn't respond to your first comment because you're entitled to your opinion. I meant it as a lighthearted comment, but could see how someone might bristle at it. Just wanted to respond here because I don't think bragging would be the correct description. I had/have a phobia about driving. A few drinks relaxed me and I at least perceived I drove better.

However, I also realized it was stupid and dangerous and I do not drink and drive, nor have I for many, many years (hence the comment in my original post that I stopped that and the angel icon)

I do promise however that next time I use a throw away comment, I will add commentary in long, tedious explanations and clarifications such as this one.
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Old 06-15-2012, 10:21 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Axver
This discussion of marks just reminds me of a couple of American exchange students I knew who had a really hard time adjusting to the fact that at Australian universities, 75-79% is considered a pretty good mark and ≥80% is excellent. When they got their first assessments back, they were disappointed to get an 80% - and then very confused to see Aussie students congratulating each other on getting 77%.

Now when I'm tutoring and have any exchange students, I take them aside to make sure they're aware of how we mark. Usually they're not, and are very grateful to know that 72%, rather than being a bad mark, is actually our average. I'm surprised they're not actually told this sort of thing ahead of time.

What has struck me, though, from all of these conversations is how normal ≥90% is taken to be by Americans and it makes me wonder 1. how inflated the marks are and 2. if most of the rating scale below 70% or even 80% is simply not used, because that's how it sounds. I know barely anybody here who has got over 90% for an item of assessment, and in my own marking I probably only give it to one in twenty or thirty essays.
This certainly isn't the case everywhere. At my university, at least in my majors (economics and electrical engineering), the "90 is an A, 80 is a B" scale gets thrown out the window. I've seen tests where the average score is well below fifty percent, and an A is roughly a 70% or so (probably the top fifth of test takers). And the Econ department at my school actively pressures professors to give around a certain percentage of people each letter grade in certain classes. In both cases, grading becomes mostly just relative to classmates, and the number of As is limited by that.

However, I don't think that's the case in most liberal arts departments at my school. One of many reasons why the average GPA for someone in liberal arts is much higher than the average GPA for someone in engineering, despite the fact that engineering is much harder to get into in the first place.
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Old 06-15-2012, 11:38 AM   #29
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I tend to see the "grade inflation" phenomenon as something of a myth. I have been around a lot of college and high school teachers in my day, and I would say that for every one who grades "leniently" there are two who explicitly fight against what they perceive to be grade inflation. I graded for a professor in the Humanities once who insisted that the class average needed to be 80%, regardless of the overall quality of the papers and projects. To me, artificially lowering grades is a much more egregious evaluation practice than allowing multiple A marks. For me, if every student were to earn an A based on the standards that I set, every student would receive that A.
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Old 06-15-2012, 01:15 PM   #30
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You don't think someone bragging about drinking and driving deserves to be ridiculed?
I don't think publicly calling it out as a "fucking idiotic thing to say" does anything to help the discussion on this forum.
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