I think I generally agree with your assessement. When I used the phrase
"pass/fail" I sure didn't mean the system used by many poorly motivated and
somewhat lazy teachers and professors who need a way to not make decisions about
the qulaity of a student's work. What I have in mind is something wuit

        You and I have worked in academic and professional environments where
the rules of the scientific method give at least some standard of what
constitutes minimum acceptable performance. The logic and facts establish that
a scientist or engineer must have a grasp of some minimum set of concepts and
methods before he or she can be turned loose on the world. I have also
experienced the mileu of law enforcement, where there is the same kind of
insistance on minimum standards. (Happily, the LA and Detroit cases are getting
us back toward those standards of knowledge and performance.) Aviation is
another area that I am familiar with where there are minimum standards set to
insure that those that may be affected by the performance of the pilot have at
least the assurance that some minimum acceptable level of competence has been

        I see nothing wrong in having a pass/fail system that simly says, "you
don't go on to the next phase until you demonstrate that you understand the
minimum acceptable content of this phase." This won't thwart a budding Nobel
winner, FBI director, or astronaut, but it will give us a better gauge of who is
ready for the next level of training beyond where they are at present.

Best, Tom Baines

YOUSAID (931012):
"I think we could go a long time without considering the requirements of
educators, industry, or the legal system. If we raised the standards and
required more of teachers, we culd start turning out people who know_more_than
what is required by the poorly-educated people who now set the standrds."

A curious statement. Picked those three groups because it is they who are
struggling with the most difficult problems evident in our society right now.
Most of our socio-economic and health related problems seem to me to be directly
related to how badly we have failed to educate ourselves. I don't think the
standards for a solution can be set by those who have chosen to disengage from
life and be mere observers. I think those who choose that life can make helpful
comments, but workable solutions have to be found "in media res" not from and
observation balloon.

Who do you believe can set the proper standards for education?