Monday, March 20, 2006
Grades are important because they assign some responsibility to both the student and the teacher. The student is held accountable for learning the material in the course. Why should a teacher find it demeaning to grade a student's learning? He shouldn't: The grade represents the charge we are given in teaching, not only to instruct and to correct but also to judge.
Mr. McCarthy isn't a teacher at all. He's a lecturer who wants an audience that is uncritical. Students will regard a teacher critically when they know they may receive poor grades, and that's fine. If you can't hold up to the criticism, get the heck out of the classroom. And since he's not a teacher, McCarthy's got no business giving exams and doesn't have an informed opinion on the topic Matthews discussed. Only because of his status as a retired columnist for the WaPo is McCarthy allowed to write to Matthews on its editorial page. What a waste of space.