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William Farish – the joys of the grade scale

Ever wonder how we ended up with a grade system in schools and universities? This topic came up in a recent CCK08 thread. We only need to look back a few hundred years to discover William Farish. Apparently, Farish is to receive the credit for initiating grade structures as a sharp departure from how learners were previously evaluated: “When a student graduated, the most impressive thing she or he could share with a prospective employer was not a Grade Point Average (GPA) or even the name of the institution attended: it was the name of the teacher. Students of the great teachers of history often became famous themselves because of the thoroughness with which their mentors had inculcated knowledge, understanding, skill, and talent in them” (Postman also briefly addresses this in Technopoly). Everything starts somewhere (duh!). Most of us have been in a grade system all of our academic lives (as students, educators, trainers). It’s difficult to imagine there was a time when grades didn’t exist.