Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Curve

When I came to America for high school, I encountered the term "The Curve" for the first time. As in, getting yelled at by others in my class that I was ruining the curve for them. When I finally figured out that American teachers graded on a theory called the "Bell Curve", and that only a few could get A's, more than a few could get B's, the majority C's, some D's and a few F's - I was at first agreeable.

Then came the shocker to me. This so called curve moved! And it moved due to the people who were able to get A's.

Okay. I came from Singapore. The educational system there was a testament to the powers of memorization, but deductive reasoning and being able to write essays weren't subjects that they concentrated on. And the grading system there went like this.

Everyone was scored on a top score of 100. 92-100 meant an A; 83-91 = B; 74-82 was a C; 65-73 was a D and anything under 65 was an automatic F. I was consistently in the top 5 of my class in Singapore, which meant, nothing less than 92 was satisfactory to me on any given test.

So, when I came to America and was yelled at by my classmates that I was "bringing up the curve" did I listen? Nope. My opinion back then and now still, is why should I dumb myself down just cause you're lazy?

I remember my best friend in elementary school in Singapore. Yee Mei Kew. Her father was a trishaw driver. Every day, he'd bring her to school in a trishaw. I could see my friend's embarassment as she climbed out of the cab, but what she didn't know was, everyone of us were secretly wishing we were coming to school in that cool trishaw. Mei Kew was the smartest of our class, and the quietest. Whichmade her the safest in my eyes and hence our friendship. I wonder if she remembers me.

Anyway, Mei Kew helped out at home after school and yet always got her homework done, and in that pretty small handwriting of hers. The rest of us? Well, we got to goof off after we got our homework done.

I guess the whole point of this post is, there are standards, and then there's looking good. Looking good is, if your class falls into the bell curve quite nicely. Oh, this by the way, appears not to be the standard anymore. Apparently, the bell curve is only half a curve. Teachers aren't allowed to fail anyone anymore.

I must admit, I never felt dumb in my life (well, except in that college physics class but that's another story) so maybe I shouldn't offer my opinion. The only times I got C's or D's was when I ACTIVELY sought them.



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