Let's say there is a really important test coming up. So I prepare my very best. I study hard, I take practice tests, I memorize: I basically do everything in my power to ace it. On the day of the test, I notice there are people there who haven't been in the class before. They haven't bothered to come because they just don't really care. Their books are still in the plastic. I'm sure they are hoping to just pass and move on with their lives. They can't be bothered with working hard (even if it is so important!)
As the test begins, I find myself well prepared. I read and answer each question with confidence and I feel proud and glad my work is paying off. Meanwhile, I hear people cheating. Asking others answers and looking at others work. I know the professor must be noticing, but he does nothing to stop them. Oh well, back to my test. When the time is up and I hand in my work, I'm feeling quite sure I've not only done my best, but that I will most likely have earned an A for my efforts. I thank the teacher for all he has done to help me learn the material. I go home, satisfied of a job well done.
A few days later, everyone gathers back in the classroom to receive their grade. For some reason, the professor has decided to announce the grades out loud. Person after person stands up and is given their grade: A, A, A, A... on and on. What? How on earth is everyone getting an A? Clearly, some of these people were not prepared at all...not to mention they didn't even care. What's going on? Oh well, I guess it's ok. Clearly I'm going to get an A as well. Finally, after everyone in the class has received his or her A, my name is called. RaeAnne Fredrickson: F. What?? What do you mean, F? People stare at me with disapproval and awkwardness on their faces. (She is one of those students.) I sit back down, looking over my paper. I even ask to compare it to another students paper. Every answer is the same. We both did the same work. Yet, here I sit with an F while they have an A. Disappointment, confusion, anger and sadness overwhelm me. I don't understand!
People around me say, don't worry, the teacher really likes you and wants what's best for you. Ok, I think, then I'll go talk to him about it. So I ask him, What happened here? What did I do wrong? Why did I get an F while everyone else got an A? He just looks at me and says, No reason. These things just happen sometimes. I immediately protest. What do you mean? You could have given me an A just like everyone else. I deserved it just like they did (and, really more than a lot of them who don't care)! Why aren't you helping me? He just stares blankly at me and I have no choice but to go sit back down. All that's left is hurt and resentment and sorrow. I had done the same work as everyone else. I had done all I could do. But I failed.
I look around at everyone with their happy faces and big red A's on their pages and I am wounded. What did I do wrong? What did they do right? I'm lost in confusion and there are no answers.
Other students tell me, Don't worry! You'll get an A next time. But I wonder...
They say, the teacher really cares about you. But I wonder...
Everyone walks out the door with their A's; both deserved and underserved. They are content.
I sit looking at my F. I'm hurt and alone and confused. But I have no choice. I get up and walk out the door, wondering if I'll ever have the strength to do it all again.