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THEY GET AN "A," YOU GET AN "A," WHAT'S WRONG WITH THAT?


On the first day of class the professor says, "I have this very complicated Math problem, the solution of which shall constitute your grade for the entire semester. I'm giving you the problem now so you can start working immediately if you hope to pass the course. I want you all to make A's."


You want to do well so you get to work. You go to the library. You begin the calculation. To your surprise, you note that, even by mid-February, only a few of your fellow classmates have begun to work on the problem. Well, that's their business. They will be sorry come May.


The week before exams, you are proudly putting the finishing touches on your paper and the solution to the problem. Some in the class tell you that if they work hard over the next few days they might get it finished. There are others who haven't even begun. But, that's their problem.


On the last day of the semester, you proudly bring your work in person to the professor. To your surprise, everyone else has their work done as well. You're stunned. Then you begin to hear some comments. "Professor, thanks for helping me figure this out last week. Without your help, I would never have finished." "Here it is professor. All done, thanks to your kind assistance yesterday." "Thanks for coming by the dorm last night to help me."


Now you're really stunned. No wonder they finished; while you were hard at work, on your own, the professor was all over campus spoon-feeding it to everybody -- everybody but you, that is. So you tell the professor what you think of this. She replies, "Why do you begrudge my generosity? The goal of class is to get people to finish the problem. You were able to finish it on your own. Fine. The others needed a little special attention. You get an A. They get an A. What's wrong with that? Am I not doing you right?"


--William Willimon, Pulpit Resource, Vol. 21-3, pg. 50

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