A recent New York Times article (see below) dealt with college students’ expectations that they should be rewarded with grades based upon their effort, rather than on their actual learning. Interesting! I wonder how long they would accept other “efforts” as a satisfactory measure in their lives versus actual results. When their Internet connection is out, they want it back on, NOW! Results, please! Power off? Car broken? Cable not working? Bus late? It’s results that count.
We all tend to judge ourselves based upon our best intentions, our sincere efforts, and simultaneously expect hard results from others. Oh, we may be patient with the waitress who is bedeviled by a slow kitchen, we may be kind to the repair tech who comes out. But sooner or later, and usually sooner if we have meaningful choices, we switch to whoever can deliver the results we want, and at the best price and quality to boot.
I don’t mean to pick on college students; the entitlement epidemic has been a problem for quite awhile now. I’ve met many people who radiated the vibe that it was downright unfair, even mean or unkind, to evaluate them based upon results; that the proper measure was the intensity of their effort. In fairness, in the short run, intelligent effort is a good proxy for results. Prior to the end of the race, it is one of the best measures of the outcome of the race. But after awhile, either the efforts deliver the desired results or they don’t.
As a society, we as a whole live so far from the edge of true disaster, our cushion is so great, our lives so protected, that to some it does seem cruel to hold people accountable for failure. Yet reality can be rather cruel. My father served in World War II. The final path of history at times seems inevitable, yet those who study history know that there was nothing inevitable about the Allied victory nor about the fall of Nazism nor the halting of the Holocaust. I wonder to myself where we might be today if my father’s generation had the sense of entitlement that would allow them to say: “Hey, we tried! Sorry!”
To some, my WWII example may seem overly harsh or too “heavy.” I reply, no, that’s just the way it is sometimes. Because others made the ultimate sacrifice, we enjoy the resulting freedom.
“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” — Patrick Henry
—- Article New York Times ——
Student Expectations Seen as Causing Grade Disputes
By MAX ROOSEVELT
Published: February 17, 2009
The New York Times