Saturday, February 14, 2015

Re: Dear Student: No, I Won’t Change the Grade You Deserve

Vitae asks, "Let’s say a student who received a C grade on a paper asks you to reread it and change their grade because they 'worked so hard on it.' How would you respond?"

And the responses, of course, are a terrible parade of righteous indignation and unearned contempt from various third-rate elites in defense of their precious meritocracy.

As a teacher, here's how I would respond.

Dear student,

A lot of teachers flatter themselves by concluding that their field of knowledge is only accessible to minds of a certain caliber. There is no reason to believe that this is actually true, of course, and there are obvious reasons why it's counterproductive and even dangerous for educators to indulge in such ideas.

I believe that, with enough effort, everyone should be able to succeed in my class. So if you have done the work here, it follows directly that I have failed you as a teacher. This, to me, is unacceptable.

If you are willing to keep putting in the effort, let's meet during office hours and work together on bringing up this grade. I have absolute confidence in your ability to master this material, and if you give me the opportunity I'll do my best to teach to you.

Thanks,
Carl