A vociferous opponent of grade inflation, Professor Harvey C. Mansfield of Harvard has earned the nickname “Harvey ‘C-Minus’ Mansfield.” Today on Uncommon Knowledge, Professor Mansfield explains what’s wrong with grade inflation—and his own, now legendary, solution to the problem: keeping two sets of books.
There is something sick in the spectacle of mature adults showering young people with unbelievable praise, that professors who have devoted their lives to their field should be so quick to find excellence in so many students. It just doesn’t make sense that 50% of a Harvard class can receive an A or A-. And yet that’s what our average is. To show my contempt for the grade inflation that we have at Harvard, I decided to give my students two grades. One is the grade that goes to the registrar – that’s the “ironic grade” that is based on the Harvard average. The other one is a private grade from me to them telling them what they really deserve.