Friday, October 20, 2006

"Average" is the new norm

My most recent Sociology assignment was to read a 47 page report about the "Sexual Victimization of College Women" and do a minimum 150 word analysis of it. My analysis was two pages and some six hundred or so words. Why was I worried I wouldn't receive the 15 of 15 possible points on it? I read the report thoroughly, took note of the staggering stats, made notes and wrote up my essay. I finished it in two days and submitted it four days ahead of the deadline. I received a grade of 17 out of a possible 15, that's right, I earned two points more than the max. My professor's comments were that it was an "excellent essay and far more detail" than he had expected thus he gave me two extra points so instead of an "A" I received an "A+".

This is great, I'm earning an "A" in the class and happy with that but something bothers me here and that is that typical written work submitted by many college students isn't of such high quality on average. Trust me, while my paper was well thought out, it wasn't long and drawn out or overkill. Years ago, a high-quality paper was not only the norm expected by professors but it the norm submitted by students. Now, written work submitted by students is just "average" and a person who does quality work receives extra credit.

It seems to be there is a serious "dumbing down" in our public high school education system. I'm not saying all college students are not writing quality papers but I am saying it is a fact that many cannot write something as simple as a comparitive or analytical essay. Why don't they know how to do it? I don't know, I think it's a combination of parenting and the education system. How many parents sit down with their kids and teach them to think? How many high school teachers teach their students to think? To think is to analyze, to compare, to ponder---is anyone in high school doing that anymore?

When did "just ok" become the norm?

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