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Grade Inequality, Failures, and Presidential Candidates
| December 31, 2013
| Rick Richman
Posted on 01/01/2014 4:44:40 AM PST by ilovesarah2012
As President Obama pivots to the issue of income inequality, Harvard has already advanced fairly far in eliminating grade inequality. At a faculty meeting earlier this month, Harvard government professor Harvey Mansfield elicited an admission from the dean of undergraduate education that the most common grade at Harvard now is an A (the term Harvard fail refers these days to a grade somewhere in the B range).
Last week, Harvard Magazine posted a sophisticated defense of the colleges grading system by Michael Zuckerman, a recent graduate whose remarkable commencement address in 2010 was a reflection on adversity and failure. Zuckerman noted the concerns that Harvards easy grading system was failing to prepare its students to weather failureone of the inevitable post-graduate experiences. But he downplayed the significance of the inflated grades, since he found that Harvard provided many extracurricular ways to learn about failure. He cited a small-group class he had taken on community organizing:
(Excerpt) Read more at commentarymagazine.com ...
"One wonders if President Obama ever took a class in community organizing (or the Middle East peace process), and what other classes he took, who taught them, what grades he received, etc.back in the days when a transcript was a transcript. Unfortunately, the protective press did not make an issue of the non-disclosure when he first ran for president. The only reason we know about John Kerrys college grades is he found himself during his own presidential campaign in a situation that can only be fully appreciated by those who know Shalom Aleichems great story, The Yom Kippur Scandal.
The idea of taking a class in community organizing brings to mind another Harvard story. Owen Gringrich was on the faculty at Harvard and the world's foremost expert on first and second editions of Copernicus' De Revolutionibus. (He gained his expertise by visiting libraries all over Europe and the U.S. measuring, photographing and transcribing margin notes.) Someone had stolen a rare (about 200 copies world wide) first edition from the Franklin Institute, and was on trial in Philadelphia. Gingrich, who had included that particular copy in his survey, and had made sufficient notes to unambiguously identify it was called as a prosecution witness. He was asked to give an estimate of its value, and he did. Gingrich probably knew more about the market for De Revolutionibus than any other person alive. On cross examination, the defense lawyer asked him if he had ever taken a course in evaluation of rare books. He answered that he had never taken a course in the History of Science, but he was a Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University. The defense attorney asked the judge to instruct the witness to answer the question. The judge must have taken satisfaction in replying, "I think he just did."
posted on 01/01/2014 6:44:47 AM PST
by Lonesome in Massachussets
(Doing the same thing and expecting different results is called software engineering.)
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