Hard Graders

The Israelites set out from Rameses on the fifteenth day of the first month, the day after the Passover. They marched out defiantly in full view of all the Egyptians, who were burying all their firstborn, whom the Lord had struck down among them; for the Lord had brought judgment on their gods.

  • Numbers 33:3-4

It is you alone who are to be feared.
    Who can stand before you when you are angry?
From heaven you pronounced judgment,
    and the land feared and was quiet—
when you, God, rose up to judge,
    to save all the afflicted of the land.
Surely your wrath against mankind brings you praise,
    and the survivors of your wrath are restrained.
Make vows to the Lord your God and fulfill them;
    let all the neighboring lands
    bring gifts to the One to be feared.
He breaks the spirit of rulers;
    he is feared by the kings of the earth.

  • Psalm 76:7-12

Have you ever had a hard grader, someone that you felt used harsh judgment? God is holy, so if the punishment is harsh, the recipient deserved it. We have nothing to fear though if we have accepted Jesus into our hearts and have faith in Him.

In high school, my most beloved teacher, except for the Bible teacher (yep, that long ago), was my Algebra II, Chemistry, and Physics teacher.  He also happened to be the bus driver for my route, which I did not live along.  He picked me up along with three elementary school children along the way, and we rode in his pickup or Volkswagen bug (long before seatbelts were mandatory) to where he parked the bus, riding the entire route with him, first on in the morning, last off in the afternoon.  We were latchkey kids, but at least I was a junior/senior in high school at the time.

The reason that he was my second favorite teacher (behind the lady who taught me the Bible, although I had read it through countless times before taking her Bible class – still learning far more than just the facts) was that he was fair, but tough.  The head of the school board tried to get him fired after I graduated due to flunking his son, but the grade was changed – on the edge of a pure passing grade – no curve grading in his classes.  My senior year, there were three of us in Physics.  I think that the girl in class was the type who simply wished to be challenged.  The other boy and I were taking Physics for entry requirements into engineering school although we went to two different universities.  As we prepared for graduation, we asked if the teacher would not have a final exam.  He said, “Only if you are all exempt.”  He then passed out his requirement to be exempt from the final examination.  I was the only one that made a good enough grade.  The girl in class used a stage whisper, “Mark, can I borrow just a half point?  That’s all I need to be exempt, too.”  The teacher laughed and said, “Mr. Rackley does not have the half point to spare.”  We all groaned, but the teacher decided to forgo the final examination for just two people, as I was legitimately exempt.

But as a result, I hardly opened my freshman Chemistry book in college, and I only studied diligently in Physics for the first semester final exam and throughout the second semester.  My high school teacher prepared me that well.

But I am thinking more of the arbitrary grader, those professors that had very screwy ideas about how grades might reflect on your life after college.

My worst grade was due to a lot of hard work.  It was the second semester of freshman Psychology.  I have mentioned how I wear my only college “D” with pride.  His grading system was that if you majored in Psychology, you got an “A” if you were above average, you got a “B” if you could consistently spell “Psychology” correctly, and you got a “C” if you could not get the spelling right.  If you were not a Psychology major, you must be perfect on everything to get a “C”.  Otherwise, the above average students go a “D” and the average students or worse flunked the course.  The next time you took the class, you were careful to not take that professor’s class.  I did not believe the garbage that he taught, so why try to improve on the grade?

A Philosophy professor had the same grading system, but in that class, I devoured Logic, making better than perfect grades all semester, getting all the extra credit work done perfectly also.  I completely broke the “curve” which meant many fellow students hated me, having to take the class over, but I only got a “C” while most of the class flunked – all because we did not major in Philosophy.  Many “B” students that semester were Philosophy majors who were “knuckle draggers.”  Ouch, harsh judgment on my part.

The only chemical engineering harsh grader gave me a “B” when I had a solid “A” average and a 100, perfect score, on the final exam, because he only gave one person an “A” and the other guy’s sketches were neater than mine.

But even then, what made me think of this topic has nothing to do with that.  It has nothing to do with a course that I designed and taught for the first time.  The second teaching of the class had three teachers: me as a guest teacher (since I was in charge of certifying each new instructor), my mentor in instructional design but an offbeat instructor, and the new instructor qualification instructor, a former NFL football running back (Cowboys, Bears – replacing Brian Piccolo, the real person from the TV movie Brian’s Song – and Cardinals).  We had a grade that signified that someone had done something exceptional while teaching, and I gave one of the new instructors such a score, but the other two downplayed it as not being THAT exceptional.  Passing, like everyone else, but not with a gold star.  Maybe a lot tougher than I was at grading, but I felt someone should be exceptional.  They were all very good.

No, I am thinking of handing out a “Like” for a post here or there.

For those of us that write what we write for the glory of God, it is not I that should get the “Like”, but God who should be glorified.  Yet, I will state that a few “Like” button clicks are indeed an encouragement.  Does it mean that the other person agrees?  Or does it mean that the reader agrees that I have the right to my own opinion, and it was well stated?

Being an industrial instructor or training manager for about thirty years, I handed out smiley sheets at the end of the course.  Required either for accreditation purposes or for ISO certification.  You know, the ten-question questionnaire that asks if you thought the course was worthwhile, the drawings and videos were instructive, the instructors engaged the trainees, you felt that your job performance would improve as a result, etc.  Graded on a scale of 0-10, ten being the best.  Rarely did the questionnaire results mean anything, unless the rare person read the questions carefully and skewed the results toward a certain conclusion.  The thing I liked most is that the question that stated that the instructors (including me) knew their subject matter was near the top, usually the highest score.  You always had those people that gave you straight tens, for a total of 100.  You usually had that guy, almost never a female, in the corner of the class that doodled instead of paying any attention to what you were saying and then gave you straight fives or worse.  The customer’s superintendent level manager, who rarely ever attended, usually gave us a grade in the 6-8 range instead of 10s – We said things that were absolutely correct, but he chose to hold tight to the wives’ tales that were dead wrong.  My only consolation is that he never touched the controls of the equipment.

But I could feel it in my gut when a low average score was coming.  The course might be a three-day course or a five-day course and for that many days, they never laughed at my jokes, they never admitted that they had made the same mistakes when I would talk of the horror stories at similar facilities (although I knew they had, seeing the scars in the equipment), and they never asked questions, not even during the hourly breaks when I tried to engage with each trainee one-on-one.  I handed out the questionnaires, knowing that the numbers were going to be low, because the class simply did not care to learn anything.  I had poured out my heart and got nothing in return, and the harsh graders in the class would let me know it.

In the year 2020, I had three posts that got a lot more views than any of the other posts that year, but the “Likes” were about the same as those posts that got hundreds or in one case thousands less views.  Those same three posts were in the top five most-viewed posts of 2021 also with no additional likes.  I suppose they were a favorite of WordPress advertisements “If you enjoyed this post, try …”  I jokingly refer to them as my least liked posts, in that the “Likes per View” are the lowest, other than the occasional dud that gets no likes at all – very rare, but it has happened, none since the first eight weeks of the blog site.  Sadly, the most recent Page is “Looking for a Living Donor,” almost begging people to get screened as a possible kidney donor (really a donor of LIFE) for my wife. The Page has only gotten one like, although many “Liked” the corresponding post.  I wanted the link on the Home page, so I made the same thing as a Page, adding some information.

So, are “Likes” the same as the straight 10s of the old smiley sheets?  Are most people only handing out “Likes” when you have done something, in their mind, that is exceptional, and that rarely if ever happens?

To be honest, I can only control what I do.  I “like” a variety of posts that other people write, some because I like the way they think, some because I like the way they write, and some because they are simply spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  In all those reasons, I wish to provide encouragement so that they keep going, keep writing, keep posting.  Do not get me wrong, I love getting that same encouragement, but my only reason for writing these posts is what I end with…

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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