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The posts In Praise of the F Word by Mary Sherry and Making the Grade by Kurt Weisenfeld investigate the duplicitous existence of the educational method. Both scholars are educators at various stages. Kurt is a college physics professor, while Mary teaches an adult literacy workshop. Both scholars use personal encounters of students they teach to explain how the school system is faulty. They back up their points on how the school system has been tainted by including real quotes from students as well as actual tragic events that have occurred as a result of the tainted system. Mary talks about how flunking should be used as a scare tactic to motivate the students to work harder. Kurt, in his article, suggests that a teacher’s decision on grades awarded should be final. He suggests this alternative because of the trend he has observed of students approaching him with different excuse to why he should change their grades. From the authors’ experiences as teachers and their firsthand accounts their students, they effectively show how the education system is flawed and ways of improving it.
The two authors provide prove of the corrupt nature of the education system using the students shortcomings, later in the job market. Marry claims that students graduate with meaningless diplomas. “Their validity will be questioned will be questioned only when the employer discover this graduates are semiliterate” (Sherry). The diplomas’ worthlessness is determined at job market by the employer when the employee can’t perform simple tasks or even endanger others due to their inadequacy. Mary further proves her claim by explaining how the diploma holders come back to “education repair shops—adult literacy programs” (Sherry), that she teaches. Similarly, Kurt claims that, grade inflation endangers the society. “If they are good at getting partial credit but not at getting the answer right, the new bridge breaks or the new drug doesn’t work.” (Wiesenfeld). Kurt goes ahead to highlight dangers of grade inflation by giving an example of how the light tower of Atlanta’s Olympic Stadium buckled ,killing an employee because of an engineer’s miscalculation. He goes ahead to give more real life accounts of mishaps due to mistakes and lack of skill.
The authors agree that failure can be used as a motivational tactic to improve grades. Mary supports her claim that failure can motivate better performance using her son’s experience. Mary’s son turned his life around from just a get-by student in English to an A student. This happened when Mary told him that he was going to get flunked by the new English teacher if he did not improve his English grade (Sherry). “ At night I see a parade of students who are angry and resentful for having been passed along until they could no longer even pretend to keep up” (Sherry). Mary tells of his students’ own regrets and their anger towards the system for being too lenient to them. Similarly, Kurt displays his believe in failure as a motivational tool by implying the resolve never to change any failed grades. “From now on, after final grades are posted, I’ll lie low until next quarter starts” (Wiesenfeld). Kurt further claims that grades are not reliable representation of a student’s efforts. He supports this claim using his colleague’s observation that a student could obtain a degree by pulling in partial credit, extra credit and by receiving breaks on credits without completely passing the main exam (Wiesenfeld).
Appeal to ethos: Mary establishes her credibility throughout her narrative because she is a teacher and a mother who experienced one of her claims with her son. Kurt also being a higher level teacher; college physics professor effectively develops his credibility. Appeal to pathos: From sharing students’ statements, Mary elicits both sadness and anger from her readers, “I liked to party and no one seemed to care” (Sherry). Using actual incidences as well, Kurt evokes sympathy and fear by sharing the tragic story of the man who died Atlanta. Appeal to logos: Mary Sherry uses her first-hand experience with her son to help readers understand that failure is a positive tool. Kurt also uses a first-hand situation to make readers understand that grade inflation is a danger to society. He gives an example of a 12-story dorm that has an uneven foundation by up to six inches due to incorrect data use. “I drive past that dorm daily on my way to work, wondering if a foundation crushed under kilotons of weight is repairable” (Wiesenfeld).
The authors effectively show the corrupt nature of educational system using actual life occurrences. Mary uses actual experiences from the students she teaches while Kurt tells of an actual occurrence to prove his claim. Finally, the authors effectively show that failure can be used as motivational tool. Mary uses her experience with his son who improved greatly because he feared being flunked. Kurt explains of how students often come with a multitude of excuses when they fail their exams hoping to be given a better grade. He proves that fear elicits better performance by vowing never to heed to the students cries.
Sherry, Mary. "In Praise of the F Word." Newsweek Magazine 5 May 1991.
Wiesenfeld, Kurt. "Making the Grade." Newsweek Magazine 17 June 1996.
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