Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Chinese Way

A couple summers ago I was visiting with a friend of mine from the Air Force Academy.  His wife is partly of Asian ancestry, you'll see why that's important momentarily.  Anyway, he and I were talking about what awesome kids they have.  I will never forget the words my friends used when talking about school:  "We've raised them the Chinese way.  An 'A-' is a Chinese 'B'.  A 'B' is a Chinese 'F'."  There's just something about that phraseology that both entertains and inspires me.

If you've been reading this blog you know that I've been facing the very real possibility of getting a "Chinese F" in my discrete optimization course.  It's not that I didn't work hard enough, or didn't study hard or long enough, it's just that I didn't do well enough on some of the tests and homework.  It all came down to the final exam, that would be the deciding factor in what grade I'd earn for the course.

I had other things on my mind today and it was only several minutes ago that it occurred to me that grades would be posted by now.  I rushed to the computer and checked my university email.  Waiting for me was an email from my professor.

My final exam grade was my highest test grade all semester.  I didn't get a Chinese F after all.  I don't know if they give +'s or -'s in this program, so I didn't get a Chinese B, either.

I'm relieved, in part because I'd hate to have gotten my lowest math grade ever in the very course I've enjoyed the most.


maxutils said...

It's one thing to drive your children to do the best they can do. It's an entirely different thing to connote a B as being an F … and, I'm not Chinese, but when you work your ass off for a B? That should not be looked down upon.

Darren said...

I won't speak for my friend, his wife, or their kids (who, incidentally, do extremely well in several different areas and not just academics)--but for *me* to get a B in math? I was prepared for it to happen, but was most worried about not setting the example of excellence for my students.

maxutils said...

Fair point. The hardest two math classes I ever took were both in my econ masters' … and I got an A in the one I thought I was going to fail, and a C in the one I thought I had nailed … slightly embarrassing, but I worked really hard in both.