Motivated students sometimes have difficulty with teachers who are hard graders. Sometimes entire classes don’t meet a teacher’s exacting standards, and few – if any – in the class get above average grades.
Sometimes the tradeoff for not getting a really good grade is worth it if the teacher is equally demanding of him/herself to the point that the learning experience in that classroom is something special. It’s no fun, however, to have a hard grader who is also a lousy teacher. Under those circumstances, it seems much more equitable to be graded on a curve.
It is important to recognize that he teacher is not the only one doing the grading. As you went through school, you had a pretty good idea of the grades that you deserved – based on how much you learned and how you went about it.
Learning doesn’t stop when formal education ends. So much of who we are develops over time as we experience life and process new information, face new challenges, and decide on the directions that our lives will take.
That means we are constantly grading ourselves. When we decide that something is too hard or too embarrassing or too meaningless to try or to keep trying, are we being fair to ourselves? Do we face new experiences like a hard grader who is a lousy teacher too?
When you have control of the process of whether you will try new experiences or to stay with challenges that aren’t working out exactly as you had hoped, it makes sense to consider grading yourself on a curve.
You may not be the best student of French or yoga or world affairs. You may not be the best dancer or you may not understand a new type of music or art. You may have difficulty keeping to a diet or exercise program. And you may have a hard time staying positive in the face of setbacks. But you are not unique in this regard.
Almost everything is distributed along a normal curve, and the majority of people are around the middle of the curve for almost any measurable trait. If you grade yourself on a curve, you may be surprised to learn that any shortcomings and difficulties that you have are also shared by many others. You will also probably find that you are actually pretty good at some of things that you have been grading yourself on too harshly.
When someone else is grading you, that person determines the grading system. When you are grading yourself, I suggest that you do it on a curve.