My philosophy: Students are not entitled to A#039;s

by Beacon Staff • March 25, 2009

RE "Professors unwilling to give easy A's," page 1, March 19:

Students in my courses, all of which satisfy the ethics and values perspective requirement, receive a full range of grades, from A to F.

Philosophy courses are in several respects skills courses: learning to think, speak and write in a logically coherent manner, learning to read difficult primary texts, learning to think more critically about one's own and others' value commitments.

These aren't exactly the skills one learns in a mathematics or laboratory science class, but they are similar in the sense that not all students achieve the same level of mastery of the skills in a one semester, introductory course.

The idea that showing up for all the classes and/or reading the material and/or working hard merits an A or B in a philosophy course is to make a mistake about the aims of the course. I know nothing about film editing or script-writing. If I worked really hard in a course, would I deserve an A or B even though my skills at the end of the semester were significantly poorer than students who were able to develop their skills to a much greater degree?

i- Elizabeth Baeten

Associate professor of philosophy/i,Prof. Elizabeth Baeten