There are two kinds of people. Those who get good grades and think grades are decent measures, and those who do not get good grades and think that grades are stupid.
Alright, maybe there’s more kinds of people, but I think that when we’re being judged, or graded, most people prefer to sit near the top end of the scale.
Think about grades. There’s USDA Prime beef. Given a choice, who would eat not-such-prime beef? Same with Grade AA eggs. When you get to C you’ve been through A’s and B’s. Cotton, another good that is graded. It’s judged on a scale from 1 (the most pima-est) to 7 which is inferior to Grade No. 6 cotton which is inferior to Grade No. 5 which is inferior to Grade No. 4, you get it. Also, after learning about cotton grades, Grade No. 1 sounds as if it will be soft against your skin. Grade No. 7 sounds scratchy.
Greyhounds that are graded E are disqualified from racing–obviously a Grade A dog is a winner. Coins have grades, too. I think most people would prefer to be classified as “mint” condition rather than basal. The latter grade is given to lumps of metal that can be identified as having once been a coin. Booze is graded as well, call and top-shelf. Which do you think is the quality choice? The one you stretch to reach, Johnny Walker Blue. (Please note that JW nonsensically uses a color scheme to grade its whiskey. Grades are everywhere!)
When you grade your backyard prep to put in a new deck, it’s evened out. I don’t want to be “evened out.” Sounds a bit like what happened to Randle Patrick McMurphy near the end of Cuckoo’s Nest.
So, you can see why some people think good grades are better than not-so-good grades. It’s not too big a leap to see that some people might equate good grades with the quality of the grad-ee. And it’s easy to see that many people aren’t really happy about being graded at all, especially if a poor grade makes some people view them poorly.
That’s too bad. Grades as a tool to guide the evaluation of skills or knowledge are different than the grade of maple syrup. Maple syrup can’t improve itself into a better grade. It’s just stuck.
Evaluations can help identify where someone is on a road to mastery. Grades are a signal, albeit sometimes a clumsy one, to distinguish ability or grasp of a subject or competency. The grader has an obligation to explain the difference in the grades and, most importantly, what it will take to get from one grade to the next.
Grades are a shorthand. You know what you’re getting. And, in the case of assessing–or judging–a person’s attainment of a milestone or proficiency, it provides some type of measure against a standard of some type.
But nobody wants a big fat red F. Nobody.
Loyal Reader, I am sorry for this post. It’s definitely not my best, but I am nearly out of gas. I have a headache. So I’ll give myself, and dutifully accept, a low grade today.
Not every day is Grade A or even B. Not even for the Doc. Tomorrow is another day.