On Mediocrity

When I was a high school teacher, the thing that shocked me more than anything wasn’t the rudeness of the students, the wildness of their lifestyles, or the paycheck, or anything that people suggested would shock me. What really shocked me was the fact that I taught students — bright, articulate students — whose aim in school was to pass. All they wanted was a 50% for their work, nothing more. They seemed to be quite satisfied with that.

In fact, the most frustrating question I’ve heard as an educator is: “Why you give me this D?” — as though grades were things I picked out of the sky. My answer — the answer of most lecturers who “give” Ds — was always: “I didn’t give it; you earned it all by yourself.” My question is: if students don’t want Ds, why do so many of them work so hard to attain them?

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