Instant Success

When students write down their goals, most of them say they want to get A’s.

But a grade is not a goal;.it is an indication that some other goal has been met (or not). What a grade ought to represent is learning. Unfortunately, in most schools it represents piles of worksheets turned in, information retained long enough to pass tests and then forgotten, and good behavior.

Nobody wants to be average. Average means mediocre.

As a culture we do not accept anything below average. This belief infuses everything we do – Olympic medals, education, living standards.

But can everyone be above average? Can everybody make the honor roll? What does the honor mean if everyone is equally honored?

Not so many years ago every graduating class had one valedictorian, the person with the highest grade point average. The runner-up was the salutadorian, and everyone else just got to graduate. A simple diploma wasn’t the consolation prize — it was why everyone had been working hard for four years.

Now at least a dozen people feel deprived if they don’t get to put ‘Valedictorian’ and their resume. A dozen sets of parents call up the school and whine if their graduate only gets a diploma after taking all those AP courses. So everybody with a grade point above 4.0 gets to be a valedictorian.

That is it possible for so many people to have a grade point that high (in a scale where 4 is the highest value) says that something has changed in our schools and in our culture.

Average is a mathematical term: measure everybody, divide by the number of everybody, and you have the average. People fall above and below this marker, and a lot of us fall in the middle.

Everybody can’t be above the middle. When we raise the target, the average may inch up a bit, but there are still a lot of people below average. More

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