Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Making the Grade...or Not

Cheating in school has come a long way since the days when we simply tried to find a seat near someone smarter than we were, so we could sneak glances at their papers and copy the answers. You know what I mean. We went from those surreptitious glances to the tiny notes carefully inked onto our arms under the sleeves (and, of course, the ink always ran), to the little crib notes tucked into the folds of our clothing.

Technology marched on, and soon we saw ads in newspapers and magazines for "research services" in which "experts writing in their fields of study" would "help" you with your term papers. We snuck calculators into math tests. Then came cell phones with text messaging that allowed us to share answers with each other, and the "research services" migrated to the internet, where we could now download entire completed term papers for a suitable fee.

Of course, the teachers weren't blind to all this. They soon learned all of our tricks and developed ways to counter them. And when it got to be too difficult to counter the tricks, they adapted.

Yesterday I found this interesting article online: "Simon Fraser U(niversity) in British Columbia Introduces New Grade to Curb Academic Dishonesty."

We're all familiar with the traditional grading scale of "A" (excellent), "B" (good), "C" (average), "D" (yucky) and "F" (failure). The new grade introduced by Simon Fraser University is "FD," or Failed for Academic Dishonesty. A university spokesman said that the grade would be used mainly for repeat or flagrant offenders, would depend on the "severity of the offense," and that faculty members should generally discuss the case with their superiors before awarding the FD grade.

It's kind of sad that a university had such a problem with academic dishonesty that it was found necessary to establish a separate grade to identify those guilty of it. Not that most of us haven't (be honest, now) cheated at one time or another, but it's disheartening that the problem has grown to such a degree that the FD grade was deemed necessary and appropriate. We didn't need an FD grade when I was in grade school...that was back when the nuns would smack you with wooden pointers and rulers, or send you to the office for a good spanking if you were caught cheating...and our parents thought it was just fine, thank you very much.

Of course, this leads to some interesting speculation of how we might use specific grading systems in other than academic areas.

For example, the National Rifle Association is notorious for working to oppose lawmakers it suspects of wishing to limit gun ownership rights. Perhaps the NRA could give such persons a grade of "GU" (Gun Unfriendly). Various militant Islamist sects and factions who routinely (and frequently violently) accuse each other of apostasy could issue the grade of "II" (Insufficiently Islamic). Former DC mayor Marion Barry and Professor Henry Louis Gates might give their local police the grade of "DR" (D***ed Racist).

The possibilities are endless. John could get the grade of "NWR" (Not Well-Rested), Fiona could look at her report card and find a "PB" (Pendulous ... uh ... never mind) grade, and Mike could be graded "KOR" (Keep Off Roofs). As for me, well, I'll let you take your own pot shots. Be gentle.

Have a good day. Make the grade. More thoughts tomorrow.



The Mistress of the Dark said...

They should have that grade in high school too. Half the football teams would have it

Debbie said...

Bilbo, I confess. Like all of the other girls who clamored to sit next to you in class, it wasn't your animal magnetism, it was your superior crib sheets! :)

Amanda said...

Ooohhhh...I remember those days. In school, my best friend and I tried to work out several "systems" but I was always so worried about getting caught that I ended up not really looking. Or not looking long enough to see anything worthwhile. It probably made me look even more suspicious.

Leslie David said...

Yeah, the good old days when you had to cheat honestly. :)

What about the category JPN--Just Plain Nuts?

Bilbo said...

Andrea - I think it would be the very DEATH of football teams...

Debbie - you sweet-talkin' thing, you! Too bad I found out about all that clamoring too late to take advantage of it...

Amanda - I think you and I were probably a lot alike that way!

Leslie - LOVE the JPN grade...I think I'll be using that a lot!

Mike said...

How about a D and an F. For Dancing Fool. Has Agnes learned that new move yet? Or did you even show it to her you big chicken. BC

Mike said...

I'm looking at my comment here and when we put it all together its aBCDF.