ambivalent imbroglio home

« International Community | Main | Which Reality is This? »

September 22, 2002

Not a Meritocracy

After three years as an English graduate student, I've pretty much come to terms with the fact that hard work and intelligence do not necessarily translate into good grades or other forms of positive recognition, but it seems that many people think of law school as a place where hard work and intelligence will be rewarded. It kind of looks like JCA is one of those people. After a 2L told her that grades are fairly random, and really not something to focus on or worry about, JCA wrote:

I'm just really tired of hearing this. I can't help but imagine that a well-prepared student with decent presence of mind and a cultivated facility for issue-spotting, someone who's gone to all the discussions and picked up on all the professorial buzzwords and nitpicks and causes célèbres, is probably going to do just fine on the exam. If I can make myself into that person, I should therefore inherit this likelihood of doing just fine. Why not?

Do JCA's grade concerns mean that she's is not quite ready to embrace the confusion of law school? Or would embracing the confusion mean something else?

From what I can tell, in all likelihood JCA will do just fine, but that might not mean straight A's simply because law school probably isn't a meritocracy any more than most other things in our world are. That can be frustrating, but it can also be liberating because it can free you to focus on content (and learning), rather than on structure (and hoop-jumping). But then, I think attitudes toward grades are one of those things you can't reason with. Some people concentrate on grades, and no matter what you do to prove that grades don't matter, they will continue to concentrate on grades. Perhaps they will think you're trying to trick them, or that you really don't know what you're talking about, or that they'd rather be safe than sorry. It's just one of those "easier said than done" things. Unfortunately, I think our educational system in the U.S. begins encouraging grade-obsession from a very young age, which means by the time people get to law school, the origins of that obsession are way too deep to even begin to challenge.

Posted September 22, 2002 01:36 PM | law school

about   ∞     ∞   archives   ∞   links   ∞   rss
This template highly modified from The Style Monkey.