By the end of the semester I will abandon any formal guidelines and just redistribute points in a way that seems just, or fair, to me. I will not rely upon any standards other than my very strong and passionate feelings concerning social justice. In the process, I will not merely seek to eliminate inequality. I will also seek to eliminate the possibility of failure.
I know some are concerned that my system may impact their lives in a very profound way. Grade redistribution will undoubtedly cause some grade point average redistribution. And this, in turn, will mean that some people will not get into the law school or medical school of their choice. Or maybe some day you will be represented by a lawyer – or operated on by a doctor – who is not of the highest quality.
These are all, of course, legitimate long-term concerns. But I believe we need to remain focused on the short term. I think my new system will immediately help the self-esteem of those failing or in danger of failing. It should also help the self-esteem of those who are not in danger of failing. After all, it just feels good to give – even if the giving is compelled and not really “giving” in the literal sense.
Finally, I want to note that this idea was also inspired by a former presidential candidate named George McGovern. In a debate with the late William F. Buckley, McGovern said that people who earn more money should pay more taxes. Buckley replied that the rich do pay more in taxes – and more as a percentage of their income. McGovern looked confused.
But I don’t think there’s anything confusing about our pending social responsibilities. Whether we are talking about income or grades it does not matter how much or what percentage we are giving. The question is and should always be “Can we give more?”
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