English Paper #1

Written 9/12/2006 || Practice paper, no grade recieved

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Catalyst

“I will give A’s to all students regardless of what sort of work they do …”

Such was the statement made by my Psychology professor at the University of Texas in the last class period. I felt as if I should clean my ears and ask him to repeat himself. Surely he jests?

As wonderful as such a promise seems at first glance, things are never as simple as they seem. Don’t mistake me here; I like an “A” as much as the next student, but I also like to gain satisfaction from my work.

I imagine two men and their families. Both sit down to dinner. Father of family (A) sees the food on the table, and he knows that it was through the toil of his hands that it was provided. Father of family (B) looks out across a similar table, sees similar food, but feels quite opposite of the first man. While everything looks delicious, he can’t help feel somewhat inadequate. He knows that he did not work for this food. He knows that it was not through any effort on his part that it has been made available. He knows that he has done nothing to accommodate for his family’s needs. “What good am I?” he wonders. “Would they not fair just as well without me?”

In much the same way, what can be expected of the student who has not worked, much less learned, so that he could garner his achievement? He has been given a “free ride”, and now worries that he has done nothing to deserve it.

This dissatisfaction is only one of three issues given life by this Professor’s method. The next two are equally, if not more, distressing than the first.

The second problem is in the uncertainty of it all. The poor student who does not study is given the same evaluation as the one who does. Insomuch, how can the two be separated? The difference would have been shown in their grade, but there are no discrepancies in the grades anymore. The hardworking pupil is given an ‘A’; the average-effort student is given an ‘A’; the idiot who sits at the back and sleeps through each session is also given an ‘A’, and it isn’t given to him for his unnatural ability to rest without closing his eyes. In all fact, it isn’t given to him for anything, whether good, bad, or stupid.

This absence of accuracy will filter down farther than just the classroom. Scholarships are awarded for high grades, which all of the students so conveniently possess. Jobs are given to individuals who have proven themselves capable. Again, every student’s record shows him to be nothing if not capable. Professors are promoted to higher positions and payrolls based on their students’ grade average, which, again, is excellent all across the board. Already the student, the faculty, the college, the workplace, the employee(s), and the patron have been affected. I would point out that encompassed by that list are education, populace, and employment. Through those three items, all stations of the country will be affected.

Now if you don’t believe that it can ultimately affect an entire nation, there is a third reason that such a uniform method of evaluation is to be avoided. I can sum it up in one word, but I’ll elaborate after that just for the hell of it. This is the one word: Communism.

One aspect that largely defines communism is uniform treatment of the populace with no regard to individual achievement. (Does this sound familiar yet?) Within communism is the belief that the single person is not so important as the whole, nor shall he/she be treated as such. I trust that your knowledge of the last few wars in our country’s history is such that I need not go into the details of the results of a socialistic society? World War I. World War II, Vietnam, Korea – each was largely based in the desire to halt the spread of communism.

If you laugh at the prospect of such far-reaching effects, I would remind you that all things begin somewhere – usually in a small, but influential way. A professor that advocates this behavior, being only one man, is certainly small, but he is as influential to his students as any force that they will ever know.

Now if our country and its leaders have such an aversion to this form of treatment, can you, being a prestigious school within said country, afford to promote it in your classrooms? Ignoring all the detrimental effects and focusing solely on the political side of the issue, should you deign to accommodate such behavior? Is it acceptable for you to be a bastion of hope for your country’s enemies? Are you ready to accept the responsibilities that such a stand would require?

You are not.

Despite all the terrors of my professor’s decision – the lack of satisfaction and achievement, the punishment of initiative, the collapse of accountability, and the prospective platform for larger issues – there is a great hope, an established certainty, to which I can hold: I’m getting an ‘A’ for this paper.

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