Kurt Wiesenfeld’s article is a criticism of what he terms as a “disgruntled-consumer approach” in modern-day students. According to the author, some students believe that they can receive non-failing grades without good performance, and he explains the dangers of this approach. He seems to blame the lack of interest in education for the issue; also, he implies that certain elements of modern upbringing might have contributed to the problem. Wiesenfeld’s argument is well-structured, and he raises important points about the dangerous consequences of a consumer-like approach to education.
Wiesenfeld starts by showing that education is often commodified, which makes students value grades more than the knowledge which grades are supposed to represent. According to Wiesenfeld, grades are not important on their own, but they can provide their owners with opportunities. However, according to Wiesenfeld, grades and degrees are meant to be a form of quality control, which should demonstrate the level of an individual’s skill and can qualify them for a job.
These qualifications are crucial because a person who is not qualified for a job cannot do it well. Wiesenfeld describes several cases of unsafe, badly constructed structures; other dangerous examples can include incompetent doctors or teachers. From this perspective, failing students who try to bargain for a grade are socially destructive because they lower quality controls and increase the likelihood of unqualified people endangering others. Therefore, grades are indeed a solution to preserving quality standards.
Naturally, the behavior is self-destructive as well because the described students miss the potential and opportunities that are associated with good grades. However, such students fail to realize that grades remain the result of their actions. It is not Wiesenfeld’s fault if a student suffers from receiving a bad grade. While mitigating circumstances might need to be considered in particular instances, it is fair to grade students based on their performance because grades are the literal representation of said performance.
Overall, Wiesenfeld presents the issues that cause and can stem from grade-bargaining very convincingly. This way, the article criticizes the grade-focused approach to education and demonstrates the need for a quality-focused one instead. The pattern of viewing education as a commodity is proven to be wrong and dangerous for failing students and society, and the position of an educator who upholds quality standards is supported.