Pass/fail-the fairest of grading

by Peter Marus

With today's emphasis on analytics in school, work, life in general, and with the need to quantify every single thing in life, it's distorted the simple question: Can someone meet the requirements of what they are doing?  

Look at sports for example.  Your salary is dependent on how well you play, and if a team will sign you when your contract is ended.  It used to be a scout would look at you, how you are playing, and if you are a fit for the system or philosophy of a team.  Now, teams employ an army of analysts who pour through statistics-physical and otherwise-and determine your worth via a spreadsheet and some graphs.  That info has a level of importance, I won't debate that, but what those numbers don't show is skills or knowledge of the sport the player is playing that can make a difference in action.  So players may will be overlooked, maybe ignored, and that player's earning potential is diminished.  This also is what affects you in your job.  Remember when you applied for a job and they asked for your GPA?  Why? what does that number say to an employer?  Why should it matter if you had a 4.5 or a 2.8 GPA.   You graduated and got the degree they are asking for.  I don't go around looking for the doctor who got the highest grade at  medical school, maybe they guy wasn't good at tests but when it comes to the hands-on work, he's world class.

Schools in general is really guilty of this, and it's been like that for years.  Look at the kids today and the stress they are under to keep one number high enough so someone will think they are smart enough to attend their institution.  Ironic is these kids are working to get into an institution, yet may need to be committed to one due to a mental breakdown.  All that grading shows is someone can remember facts, but doesn't show usage of said facts and information in practical applications.  THAT'S what is most important.  Like I said, I don't care if the doctor got a C or an A in medical school, can he care for me and make me better?  

I propose all schooling should be pass/fail.  It's simple, easy, and kids know what's expected of them.  I think it will be less stressful for kids (and adults) to just worry on getting the job done, rather than getting the job done with style points.  In the real world, no one cares about grades, but if your are competent enough to get a job done.  

One example of good grades but pathetic application of their so called "intelligence"?  most politicians.  Think about that.  We all know the genius who can't put his shoes on right, but the school idiot who is amazing at a skill and is making a good living doing it.  

Disclosure: my GPA was 2.8 at Penn State.