The Tyranny of the Grade (A Letter for My Students

My darlings,

Do not be a slave to the number 1, and do not fear the number 5. They are by no means a measure of your worth.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that you should no longer strive for excellence. I’m saying that excellence is so much more than the grade. Don’t make the grade the be-all and end-all of your education. A decade after graduating, you will realize that grades will cease to mean anything. You will realize that the most important part of your education will not be found on a class card, a bluebook or a transcript. The most important part of your education will be what’s inside your head.

Now humor me and let me say a few things not covered by our syllabus:

May the classroom be the place where you learn to think for yourself rather than parrot the textbooks. Remember that you are scholars, not sponges.

May your education be about learning to love learning and gaining insight and understanding rather than the mere accumulation of good test scores.

May you take the difficult lessons along with the easy, because even the very best of us sometimes have to learn the hard way. May you accept failure with grace, criticism with humility, and may both make you more resilient.

May you find quiet satisfaction in skills acquired, lessons learned, and insights gained. Because after all is said and done, these will be the only things worth taking with you.
I will see you all in class.

Ma’am Lynette

Day 15: Offline and Unplugged (Or: 24 Hours Without Media)

It started with a colleague’s challenge: spend a whole day without reading a newspaper, watching TV, listening to radio, logging on to the Net, or using a laptop or mobile phone.

12: 15 AM

Within 15 minutes of the experiment, I realize that I have something interesting to write about. In keeping with the rules, I don’t turn on my laptop to write. Instead, I find a couple of sheets of legal pad and a pen and do it longhand. No delete key, no spellcheck, no search engine to help me double check word use and grammar. It’s nice scrawling on a piece of paper for a change.

Continue reading

Been busy, so this blog has been gathering cobwebs the past few weeks.

But I’ll have something interesting to write about after 24 hours because of this:


It’s a social experiment we’re trying at the college. Let’s see what happens.

Seven minutes before I unplug.

I’m getting all twitchy at the mere idea of it.