Kids these days
My initial reaction to this article was "You've got to be fucking kidding me!" but then this blog post pointed out the potential different interpretations of these quotes:
Jason Greenwood, a senior kinesiology major at the University of Maryland echoed that view.
“I think putting in a lot of effort should merit a high grade,” Mr. Greenwood said. “What else is there really than the effort that you put in?”
“If you put in all the effort you have and get a C, what is the point?” he added. “If someone goes to every class and reads every chapter in the book and does everything the teacher asks of them and more, then they should be getting an A like their effort deserves. If your maximum effort can only be average in a teacher’s mind, then something is wrong.”Sarah Kinn, a junior English major at the University of Vermont, agreed, saying, “I feel that if I do all of the readings and attend class regularly that I should be able to achieve a grade of at least a B.”
Robert, over at Lawyers, Guns, and Money does a good job of parsing the language.
I think what this all boils down to for me is that there are just some things that you are not going to be good at. And that's ok. No matter how often mommy and daddy told you how special you were, there are going to be some things that even with hard work you just may not get. In college, and especially in graduate school, hard work and conscientious effort should never automatically translate into a good grade.
Depending on the subject at hand I have worked my ass off to scrape by with a B- and similarly slacked my way to an A+. Both grades were earned, and both reflected the amount of work that was required of me in that particular subject to earn that grade. Just because I worked really, really hard in my theory class - attended every lecture, completed every homework assignment, attended office hours (i.e., met the standard requirements of the course) does not change the fact that I could not successfully derive higher order taylor series expansions of some expressions. Or that I struggled to keep the properties of various members of the exponential family straight. Awarding me with a higher grade, because I worked really hard, would not only be a totally inaccurate reflection of my comprehension of the course material, but would seriously undermine the higher grades legitimately earned by my peers, who more successfully mastered the material.
Think for a moment what you're asking for when you claim that effort should be rewarded with higher grades. Do you want a doctor who passed his/her boards because she studied diligently but still couldn't diagnose appendicitis? Do you want an airline pilot who works really hard, but struggles with spatial imaging and therefore can't land a plane? Do you want to send your kid to daycare with a teacher who attended every cpr class but couldn't pass the final exam?
Hard work is a necessary component of success, but it is not sufficient. You must also be talented. And you aren't necessarily talented at everything you try. That doesn't make you a bad person. It just means you haven't found the right fit yet.