Grade Bullies

I’m coining a new phrase that I know teachers are going to love. The Grade Bully. It’s a new phenomenon most likely driven by a shift in parenting styles beginning in the 1990’s. If you think this corresponds with the emergence of the Millennial generation, you would be correct. I like to call this generation the ‘sticker generation’ where any effort, no matter how paltry, received a happy sticker. Some like to call it the ‘trophy generation’ whereby by small silvery statues which were distributed for doing nothing more than showing up. If you’re reading this and you’ve got a box of trophies in your childhood bedroom, then you may want to take this post to heart as it is most likely impacting your GPA negatively.

 

 

Grade bullies are students who communicate to teachers, in no uncertain terms, the grade they believe they deserve. These edicts usually include statements like:

 

“But this grade is not good enough for me.”

 

You’re supposed to be making me a better student.”

 

“My grade doesn’t reflect my efforts.”

 

“Your job is to inspire students.”

 

“I don’t like being compared to other students in the class.”

 

“I’m paying money for this course.”

 

If you’ve used any of the above statements, please read on.

 

For the record, I do compare your work to other students and not just the students in your class, but also all the students I’ve had over the years as well as national standards.

 

I don’t grade on effort. Effort is the sticker or the trophy. I grade on the quality of the finished product – i.e. goals scored, home runs hit and baskets made.

 

I can’t make you a better student, but I will present you with higher-level concepts that make your brain hurt. And worse – there may be more than one answer. You may not be used to this type of exercise, but it’s imperative that you learn how to think cognitively. Making mistakes is part of the process. That’s why everyone doesn’t get an A. Some students are better at it right out of the gate. Others have to work harder and some never get there.

 

Your classroom is not a movie set, and I’m not Cameron Diaz or Michelle Pfeiffer playing the role of a teacher. If I inspire you, great and if not, welcome to the real world.

 

Yes, you are paying for an academic course. You are not, however, paying for a specific grade. If you could, I’d be very rich.

 

I know all of this sounds horrible to your virgin ears, and it might paint me as an old-fashioned teacher with an axe to grind. Descriptions aside, I do have a goal and that is to prepare you for the work force where any of the above statements will earn you a pink slip.

 

Your future boss isn’t hiring you to make you a better person. They will hire you to produce for them, and your paycheck will not be delivered with a hug, kiss and endless praise. Your future boss is going to expect you to get the job done with little to no direction. Work is competitive and your boss is evaluating you versus your peers. Whoever is better gets promoted, and your boss is not obligated to explain why.

 

When employers call me to ask about hiring students the most common question is: “Can they work without supervision? Can they problem solve without direction? Can they take a project and run with it? I don’t want to babysit anyone.”

 

Normally I encourage students to respond to my posts, but I’d really love to hear from employers. What qualities do you look for when hiring recent grads?