Grades are the most important thing to most students today. Every student is aware of how their grades can affect their future. While many of us would like a pass-fail system better, all of us worry about how we”re doing. .
One essay that intrigued me about this topic is Jerry Farber’s “A Young Person’s Guide to the Grading System.” It is about his views on the grading system in our schools today. These views are not shared by Stephen Goode and Timothy W. Maier, the authors of another essay entitled “Inflating the Grades.” These two wrote about the inflation of grades in high schools and colleges today. Both articles agree that problems with the grading system are affecting the quality of education, but they find different causes for the problem.
Farber’s essay is mostly his opinion about grades and how they are important to a student. He argues that “just because you pass a subject doesn’t mean you’ve learned it” (333-334). His style is very informal, with a relaxed tone, like he is having a conversation with you. I believe this helps to get his point across well. He says that to have no grades at all would be his ideal, but proposes the credit system as a more practical alternative.
Farber discusses self-discipline as being “a certain way of pleasing yourself” (334). He says that people think self-discipline is like “staying up all night to finish a term paper” (334). He feels it “is revising one paragraph fanatically for weeks-for no other reason than that you yourself aren’t happy with it” (334). The reason he discusses self-discipline is to point out that people have a natural desire to learn, but grades interfere with that by replacing it with a desire for a letter grade.
Unlike Farber’s very opinionated piece, the Goode-Maier essay takes an informative approach. Goode-Maier says that the high grades given to the students are not worth what they used to be. They point out that students have “come to believe they”re entitled to them” (347).