Books and Movies Reviews

The Gradeless/Degreeless Syste

In Robert M. Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Phaedrus thought of a very clever way to make students work for themselves and not just for a good grade. He wanted students to attend college because they were interested in learning and not just because they needed a degree. Phaedrus thought he could do this by eliminating grades and degrees; it would be a grade less/degreeless system. When looking at this idea hypothetically with a hypothetical student, this system seemed to be fabulous, but when Phaedrus actually applied this idea to his classrooms with real students, it didn't turn out how he had hoped.
With the elimination of grades and degrees, Phaedrus believed the hypothetical student would eventually flunk himself out of school and not got back until he was there for the knowledge and not just the grades. He predicted that the student would go to hisfirst few classes out of habit and probably do the assignments in a way he was sort of trained to do them his whole life. Eventually the student would get bored with the class because he wasn't really there for any sort of purpose and would quit going to classes and do the assignments. Then the hypothetical student would eventually take himself out of school. He would flunk himself out. As Phaedrus saw it, this would be better for everyone. The student wasn't there for any real reason so he didn't deserve to be there anyway. He pointed out how a lot of money had been saved and this hadn't affected anyone but the student. All his life the student had been trained with this slave mentality, Phaedrus called it "carrot-and-whip grading, a mule mentality which said,'If you don't whip me, I won't work'" (Pirsig 175). This is why the student failed himself out; no one was pushing him to work. The student would go get a job to support himself doing something that he enjoyed. This would satisfy him for a while…


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