Monday, March 21, 2011

From C to Shining C

In each episode of that wonderful long-running public radio show, A Prairie Home Companion, Garrison Keilor always ends his monologue about the good burghers of the mythical town of Lake Wobegon, and the local Norwegian bachelor farmers, with the words:
"That's all of the news from Lake Wobegon - the town where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average."
Well, Garrison, do I have news for you! There really is a Lake Wobegon - and we live there! I'm not entirely sure about that bit to do with the men and women, but  apparently the younger folk definitely think that they're all above average - mainly because we've (collectively) told them they are. We have only ourselves to blame.

I'm referring to the horrendous "grade inflation" that's taken in place in our secondary and tertitary education systems, at least in North America. I'm sure we're not alone in the world in this respect, and for all I know the problem may be equally bad in the elementary schools. For whatever reason - and I'm not pointing the finger here (Hmmm) - we've let the students con us into letting them con themselves into believing that every one of them is above average. Worse than that, they firmly believe that a perfectly respectable C, or even a B, grade amounts to what we used to call a FAIL: the dreaded F-word that the PCP (Political Correctness Police) tell us not to use in polite company!