Thought of the Day: “A Straight-A Student has straight A’s not because of teachers, but in spite of teachers”

Also consider that if you [have] a straight-A student in your class, that student has straight A’s not because of teachers, but in spite of teachers. That’s what having straight-A means. It means you do well, no matter the teaching talent of the teacher. That’s what straight A’s mean. So if you’re a teacher and you put forth your straight-A student as though you had something to do with it, you are deluding yourself.

Photo of Neil DeGrasse Tyson from NPRThis came from a recent interview with Neil DeGrasse Tyson, who is one of my favorite contemporary scientists. The U.S. education system has many fallacies that underlie its premises, and I think Tyson succinctly states one of them here.

It also should be noted that Tyson is not alone amongst people who have truly excelled in spite of school.  Mark Zuckerberg told a class at Stanford that the best thing he did was drop out of college, and Bill Gates also dropped out of college.  And Noam Chomsky was hired as a professor at MIT without having his doctorate, because they recognized his knowledge and ability being more important than the piece of paper.

As a quick thought experiment that can bring this point home…  In how many interviews of anyone of note, have you heard them say “Yes, my straight A’s made all the difference in my life”?

P.S. – I am not saying that teachers are not valuable…  And in fact, many interviews of people of note have them share that it was a teacher that helped change their life.   And in fact, Neil DeGrasse Tyson also shares this view that teachers can have tremendous value, as I share in another post.



  1. Pingback: Thought of the Day: “The greatest teachers are the ones that turn a B student into an A student, or a failing student into a B student.” at Jacob J. Walker's Blog

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