Phaedrus' argument for the abolition of the degree and grading system produced a

nonplussed or negative reaction in all but a few students at first, since it seemed,

on first judgment, to destroy the whole University system. One student laid it wide

open when she said with complete candor, "Of course you can't eliminate the degree

and grading system. After all, that's what we're here for(Sony Vaio VGN-FZ battery)."

She spoke the complete truth. The idea that the majority of students attend a university

for an education independent of the degree and grades is a little hypocrisy everyone

is happier not to expose. Occasionally some students do arrive for an education but

rote and the mechanical nature of the institution soon converts them to a less idealistic

attitude(Sony VGP-BPS8 battery).

The demonstrator was an argument that elimination of grades and degrees would destroy

this hypocrisy. Rather than deal with generalities it dealt with the specific career

of an imaginary student who more or less typified what was found in the classroom,

a student completely conditioned to work for a grade rather than for the knowledge

the grade was supposed to represent(Sony VGP-BPL9 battery).

Such a student, the demonstrator hypothesized, would go to his first class, get his

first assignment and probably do it out of habit. He might go to his second and third

as well. But eventually the novelty of the course would wear off and, because his

academic life was not his only life(Sony VGP-BPL11 battery), thepressure of other obligations or desires would create circumstances where he justwould not be able to get an assignment in(Sony VGP-BPL15 battery).

Since there was no degree or grading system he would incur no penalty for this. Subsequentlectures which pre sumed he'd completed the assignment might be a little more difficultto understand, however, and this difficulty, in turn, might weaken his interest toa point where the next assignment, which he would find quite hard, would also bedropped. Again no penalty(Sony VGP-BPS13 battery).

In time his weaker and weaker understanding of what the lectures were about would make it more and more difficult for him to pay attention in class. Eventually he

would see he wasn't learning much; and facing the continual pressure of outside obligations,he would stop studying, feel guilty about this and stop attending class. Again, no penalty would be attached(Sony VGN-FZ62B battery).

But what had happened? The student, with no hard feelings on anybody's part, would

have flunked himself out. Good! This is what should have happened. He wasn't there

for a real education in the first place and had no real business there at all(Sony Vaio VGN-FZ31B battery).

A large amount of money and effort had been saved and there would be no stigma of failure and ruin to haunt him the rest of his life. No bridges had been burned.

The student's biggest problem was a slave mentality which had been built into him

by years of carrot-and-whip grading(Sony Vaio VGN-FZ18S battery), a mule mentality which said, "If you don't whip me, I won't work." He didn't get whipped. He didn't work. And the cart of civilization,which he supposedly was being trained to pull, was just going to have to creak along a little slower without him(Sony Vaio VGN-FZ21S battery).

This is a tragedy, however, only if you presume that the cart of civilization, "the

system," is pulled by mules. This is a common, vocational, "location" point of view,

but it's not the Church attitude(Sony VGN-FZ190 battery).

The Church attitude is that civilization, or "the sys tem" or "society" or whatever

you want to call it, is best served not by mules but by free men. The purpose of

abolishing grades and degrees is not to punish mules or to get rid of them but to

provide an environment in which that mule can turn into a free man(Sony Vaio VGN-FZ31S battery).

The hypothetical student, still a mule, would drift around for a while. He would

get another kind of education quite as valuable as the one he'd abandoned, in what used to be called the "school of hard knocks." Instead of wasting money and time as a high-status mule, he would now have to get a job as a low-status mule, maybe as a mechanic. Actually his real status would go up. He would be making a contribution for a change. Maybe that's what he would do for the rest of his life. Maybe he'd found his level. But don't count on it(Sony VGN-FZ11L battery).

In time--six months; five years, perhaps--a change could easily begin to take place.

He would become less and less satisfied with a kind of dumb, day-to-day shop-work.

His creative intelligence, stifled by too much theory and too many grades in college,

would now become reawakened by the boredom of the shop. Thousands of hours of frustrating(Sony Vaio VGN-FZ31M battery)

mechanical problems would have made him more interested in machine design. He would

like to design machinery himself. He'd think he could do a better job. He would try

modifying a few engines, meet with success, look for more success, but feel blocked

because he didn't have the theoretical information(Sony Vaio VGN-FZ31Z battery). He would discover that when before

he felt stupid because of his lack of interest in theoretical information, he'd now

found a brand of theoretical information which he'd have a lot of respect for, namely,

mechanical engineering(Sony VGN-FZ11M battery).

So he would come back to our degreeless and grade-less school, but with a difference.

He'd no longer be a grade-motivated person. He'd be a knowledge-motivated person.

He would need no external pushing to learn. His push would come from inside. He'd

be a free man. He wouldn't need a lot of discipline to shape him up(Dell RM791 battery). In fact, if

the instructors assigned him were slacking on the job he would be likely to shape

them up by asking rude questions. He'd be there to learn something, would be paying to

learn something and they'd better come up with it(Dell Inspiron 1320 battery).

Motivation of this sort, once it catches hold, is a ferocious force, and in the gradeless,

degreeless institution where our student would find himself, he wouldn't stop with

rote engineering information(Dell Studio 1450 battery). Physics and mathematics were going to come within his sphere of interest because he'd see he needed them. Metallurgy and electrical engineering would come up for attention. And, in the process of intellectual maturing that these abstract studies gave him, he would be likely to branch out into other theoretical areas that weren't directly related to machines but had become a part of a newer larger goal(Dell Inspiron 1564 battery).

This larger goal wouldn't be the imitation of education in Universities today, glossed over and concealed by grades and degrees that give the appearance of something happening when, in fact, almost nothing is going on. It would be the real thing(Toshiba NB100 battery).




Leave a Reply.