Learning Curves

By Bill Cosby

The best that a parent can do today is be semi-involved in his child's schoolwork.

"Sign this test, Dad," said my youngest daughter one evening, her left hand casually draped across the top two inches of the front page.

"May I see the mark first?" I replied.

"It's not important. You and Mom always say it's learning, not marks, that counts."

"Right. And I'd like to learn about your mark."

"You mean you'll only sign for a high one? I thought you were an equal opportunity father."

"Is it lower than a D?"

"Dad, you have to remember that a mark is merely the teacher's opinion."

"Is it lower than an F? Have you gotten the world's first G?"

"The thing is, she SHOULD have marked this test on a curve."

"I don't care if it should have been marked on a ramp. If you don't move your hand, I don't move mine."

Slowly, she lifted her hand to reveal a bright red D.

"But this doesn't mean what you THINK," she said.

"Oh," I replied. "I suppose it stands for delightful."

"No, it's a high D."

"Tell me," I asked, "did you study for this test?"

"Oh, absolutely! I really did."

"Then how could you get a D?"

"Because I studied the wrong things. But Dad, isn't it better to study the wrong things than NOT to study the right ones?"

One of the wrong things to study, I've discovered, is a child's reasoning. Only a child can make you think that F is her teacher's initial.