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Disappointed students flock pugnaciously these days to the quiet and dignified corners of Cambridge and vicinity, insulting with their discordant clamor the quiet that has recently been disturbed only by the subdued and relentless scratching of examination correctors' red pencils. The difference between a D plus and a C minus and a C plus and a B minus comes into sharp focus and assumes an importance entirely out of proportion with that which it has when seen from the point of view which presents education as a mater of filling minds with knowledge and training them to use it.
It is impossible that over twelve thousand examinations could be corrected and graded without error. And it is only natural that students on the border line of a certain group of the rank list should find that error and wonder if something could not be done about it. Still there is something to be said on the side of the instructor who sends his grades to University Hall and foolishly imagines his year's work done until the avalanche of requests for grade changes deposits him turbulently in the midst of another maelstrom.
The student who receives the grade he deserves and knows it, yet still troubles his teachers for improvement is both pitiful and disgusting. The man who seriously feels he has been overlooked and asks an impersonal reconsideration of his case for some specific purpose, however, is not asking too much. But the man who throws himself on the sympathy of the instructor and asks for something not coming to him is not only insulting the intellectual honesty of Harvard's faculty but placing himself in a position which, if it does not destroy his self respect at least destroys the respect which anyone else may have for him. It should not be necessary to say that examination graders, whatever else they may be, are not mere masses of motiveless malignity. They do not give D plusses and C plusses for the sheer pleasure of the thing. It is even possible to omagine a humane section man closing one eye, looking to see whether or not there be faces at the window, and surreptitiously worth only a D, then being forced by his conscience and the thought of not sleeping nights to go back and give the paper what it deserves.
When the temptation arises to storm the dwelling of a section man and inquire whether or not he thinks he can get away with giving a D plus, it would be well for the student to remember the moral maxim of a seventeenth century philosopher who vowed that in the face of adversity he would remember to attempt the conquest of himself rather than the conquest of the immutable forces of the world.
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