|Thursday, October 21, 1999||
Volume 65, Issue 43
Theriault on education
|Where there's a
whine, there's an 'A'
By Margaret Mitchell
And now it's time for college America's favorite game show, Let's Make A Deal!
"I'm your host, Monty Hall, and I'm ready to find our first contestant on Make A Deal! How about this guy right over here? What's your name and major?"
"I'm Ray, and I'm a political science major."
"Okay, Ray. What kind of deal do you want to make?"
"Well, Monty, I got an F on an exam and it's really going to hurt my GPA."
"Have you ever thought about taking the professor's comments to heart, finding out what went wrong and using that knowledge to make improvements on the next tests, with the goal of maybe, just maybe, actually learning something? Don't you think that would be better than whining about it and trying to Make A Deal?"
(Ray stares blankly.) "Uh, no."
"Well, okay then, Let's Make A Deal! You know the rules: You have to use all your powers of whining and persuasion to get me to curve that grade. Don't forget, the more people you can get to join in the bargaining, the better your chances of winning. Are you ready? Let's Make A Deal!"
"See, you didn't explain what you wanted from this exam. I didn't understand the book. I didn't read the book. I lost the book. My dog puked on my notes. I fell asleep in class. I was daydreaming about my life as a millionaire."
(Audience joins in.) "That's right. You didn't explain it. We didn't understand. We want to negotiate every single issue. You didn't have to grade them so hard. We don't want these grades, we want what's behind Door Number 3!"
"Okay, audience and Ray, you win! You've worn me down, proving once and for all that knowledge isn't power, whining and bargaining is.
"So, I'll take those low grades and give you all what's behind Door Number 3. Let's see what they've won."
(Door Number 3 opens.) "Well folks, looks like you've managed to win C's and D's instead of F's. But look at what you've really won: mediocrity!
"That's right, you've proven for us once again that it's not necessary to be interested in producing thoughtful, insightful, coherent or even correct work. "Instead of trying to expand your mind and take your capacity for knowledge in a whole new direction, you still think that this is seventh grade where your mom won't let you go to the mall with your friends this weekend because you got a low grade.
"You forget that this is college, your last opportunity not only to be allowed but encouraged to look beyond the surface, to consider all the possibilities and gain new perspectives on the things you thought you already knew, and learn about things you never knew.
"Somewhere along the line, you got the idea that college is a shopping mall, where the object is for the consumer to shop around for the best deal with the least hassle.
"At college you are not a consumer but a student, and the object is learning and knowledge, not a piece of paper to put into a cheesy frame.
"College is not a place to buy what you want; it's where you get only what you have built yourself. Is what you are building going to stand up to the storms and intense heat in the outside world, or is it going to fall apart at the first breeze?
"A college education is not a commodity or a product. It doesn't come in a box, it's never on sale, there are no warranties and it's definitely non-returnable and non-refundable.
"But if you use it the way it was intended, it's the best deal you could
ever make. Think about it."
Mitchell, a junior political science major,
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.