1983: Patrick D. Dalton - "Teach Me All That I Must Do"

1983: Patrick D. Dalton - "Teach Me All That I Must Do"

P Dalton

The last member of the original faculty of Church College of Hawaii to be honored as a McKay lecture was Patrick D. Dalton. After receiving his B.S. in 1949 from Arizona State University and his M.S. in 1951 from Utah State University, Dalton eventually completed his Ph.D. in 1961 at the University of Arizona. An Eagle Scout with three palms, Dalton has continued his interest in Scouting throughout his life, having been award the coveted Silver Beaver and the Oahu Windward District Distinguished Merit Award because of his outstanding contributions to Scouting. Dalton's mission to Tonga prepared him well for later service there as President of the Tongan Mission from 1963-1966; indeed, his appointment to the faculty of CCH reached him while he and his wife Lela were escorting President and Sister McKay on a tour through the South Pacific. A recipient of a National Science Foundation Fellowship in 1959, Dalton, the twenty-first McKay lecturer, in his address expressed though on the nature of education culled from a lifetime of teaching. The Daltons are the parents of Tanya, Erin, and Mark.

At this moment, I stand here very humble. That is, if a person can be humble when claiming to be humble. This is an experience and honor I never anticipated or dared hope for. I pray that I might not bring dishonor to the twenty participants who have preceded me at this podium.

Many of my friends and associates have spoken to me during the past year, with good intentions, offering suggestions of what I might talk about today. I hope none of them will feel offended because I have not followed their advice and counsel.

I choose to speak about education and learning, a subject I probably know the least about, but in which I have spent more time and energy over the last thirty years than anything else.

As I have previously informed many of you, I am not a trained educator. I spent my college years preparing to be a field biologist. In 1951 I was happily engaged in that activity, employed by the federal government. The Korean War (or police action, as we called it then) was underway. The LDS Church was restricted in calling young 19-year-old men on missions, and turned to calling men a little older, World War II veterans, who had not previously served missions. I qualified. During the years I would have been a missionary, I served my country. Consequently, and fortunately, my wife and I were called to serve together a mission in Tonga. We were assigned to be teaching missionaries at the Liahona High School. We served in the original Liahona faculty. That began my training and education as a teacher. At the conclusion of that service, we joined the original faculty of this institution, then known as the Church College of Hawaii.

The longer I remained a teacher, the more I became increasingly dissatisfied with the techniques and methods of formal education. I wondered whether students were really learning to do anything. Learning to do is an important function of an education.

A number of years ago, Naomi W. Randall wrote a Primary song which has become a great Church favorite. In fact, this song greatly influenced me, particularly the knowledge of what occurred when President David O. McKay was shown the lyrics of the song. The chorus at that time read:

Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,

Help me find the way.

Teach me all that I must know

To live with Him some day.

President McKay quickly crossed out the word "know" and wrote in the word "do."1 This is reminiscent of the words of James where he says:

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:

For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. (James 1: 22-24)

In other words, if we hear only, we soon forget, but the doer learns and then performs. Learning to do is the key.

I have some ideas I have formed on learning, of which I wish to speak about today. I will present my ideas under these eight headings: 1. The primary priority and focal point of learning is the student, the learner. 2. Learning is a human, mortal, living activity-but is constantly being undercut by that very fact. 3. Learning is a thinking, reasoning, problem solving process that requires time, patience and hard work. 4. Learning is a never ending continuum-binding preschool, precollege, college, post-graduate, and life unto a united whole. 5. Learning requires a fine balance between practical training (experience) and formal instruction (the spoken and written word). 6. Learning requires improved evaluation procedures that correctly assess progress and competence. 7. Learning requires adherence to a standard of excellence. 8. Learning requires and demands at all levels the highest ethical conduct.

1. Now, first, the primary and focal point of learning is the student. The whole process is that the unlearned might become learned, and consequently capable to perform. This is also very important to our Father in Heaven. Do you realize that just two years after the Church was restored and organized the Lord gave a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith urging him and his associates, and through them, all members of the Church, to study and treasure the things of learning in all fields? He said:

And I give unto you a commandment that you shall teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom.

Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the Kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;

Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms. (D&C 88: 77-79)

Why? This is why: "That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you" (D&C 88: 80).

That we might be able to do the job assigned to us. That we will perform correctly.

At the ground breaking ceremony of this institution, President David O. McKay said that verse of the Doctrine and Covenants

tells us what this school [was] built for. . . first, the things pertaining to God and His kingdom, a testimony of the existence of Deity [to] know that He lives and that He is our Father, the Father of all mankind. . . . Secondly, that those who are obeying those principles will develop manhood, character, and make noble men and women. The world needs them. (2-3)

He was speaking of performing, doing things for the good of mankind and the development of the Kingdom of God.

Are we doing that? Often instructors and administrators place interest on their own desires and concepts first and consequently supersede the needs of students, who then become a secondary consideration. When that happens, the educational process becomes distorted. Other distorting pressures can come from students themselves, members of the faculty, administration officers, staff and support areas, and even society or the non-academic, off campus individuals. The education principle may even be violated in the admissions office, in the teaching process, and in the evaluation of student competency.

Consider the student who does not know what is required, really required, to qualify for a certified rating. He does not know what he really must be able to do to actually perform in a profession. He insists on studying only the courses of his own choice, and usually just the easy ones. I am brought to mind of a number of students who sign up for what they think are easier courses on a different campus, to have the credit transferred for graduation. There is also the student who gets his or her counseling and advisement in the hallways and the dorms from other students. "Who is the easiest teacher?" they inquire. "What are the easiest courses?" Believe me, the easy road is a downhill coasting. Success is at the top of the hill. That requires an uphill drive. Work. You learn nothing from the easy task. You learn from overcoming the difficult task and mastering it. I have been told about a student that was seen Xeroxing old class exams for his friends, so they might all get good grades. "The professor," he said, "never alters his tests." I will speak more on ethics later. But for now, what are such students preparing for? Certainly not to magnify their calling.

Education and training the mind is essentially no different than training the physical body. How does an athlete prepare to become a champion? With hard work. Constantly endeavoring to accomplish the more difficult task. The mind is no different. Students must learn to subdue every mental hurdle in their path. If they do not do that, they will not be able to succeed in real life in the real world.

Often students, by their protests, have altered course contents, teaching methods, evaluation procedures, and even standards of competency. Most often these have been downward changes with relaxing of standards. Faculties have yielded to such pressures, and have inevitably caused the educational process to become easier and less demanding for the hedonistically cultured student, centered on self.

Don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying the student should not have an input into his or her educational program. They should, but with mature understanding and objectivity of what they want to be in life and what they want to do. We face the age-old question of "How much faculty control should there be in determining requirements and how much student influence should there be?" I am afraid we are shifting more and more towards acceding to student pressure, and consequently to laxity. There are reasons for such capitulations. The teacher wants the students to "like" him. He wants a high student rating on the annual student evaluation of the teacher and the course. The popularity vote. The teacher becomes the politician who promises more for the voter with less taxes.

Occasionally personal interests take over, and a teacher may insist that certain specialties (usually his own) receive favored treatment. A hodgepodge inevitably results from attempts to satisfy everyone. Usually the results are course additions and an overstuffed curriculum. We went through that once in the old CCH curricula. Now it is more difficult to get a new course added. A curriculum change may not be what will produce better students. The charge President McKay gave at the ground breaking can be achieved if both faculty and students reject mediocrity and work towards excellence by gaining supremacy over the most difficult tasks at hand.

Now let's look at my second principle: education is a human, mortal activity, but is constantly being undercut by that very fact, that is, the human, mortal nature of man.

No one is born educated. All must learn. Learning is a vital behavioral feature of higher organisms. We are told by the behavioral scientists that behavior is an action in response to a stimulus. It fulfills the need of an organism to maintain a stable environment, both internally and externally, thus allowing one to adapt and survive. Behavior is the results of either or both instinct and/or learning.

Instinct is an inherited, stereotyped behavior which precedes learning. Learning is defined as acquired skills or knowledge obtained through experience.

Progressing from the simplest to the most complex type of learning, a basic classification of learning might include:

  First: Habituation: Learning to disregard insignificant stimuli.
  Second: Imprinting: Learning during a critical period of infancy, a relationship or other suitable event which results in becoming relative[ly] permanent.
  Third: Reinforced Instinct: Which develops from the satisfactory results of doing what comes naturally.
  Fourth: Classical: Comes from receiving a reward for accomplishing a task desired by the rewarder. (This is how circus animals are trained.)
  Fifth: Operant Conditioning: Which results in the performer stimulating the reward, and thus learns what he must do to achieve the reward desired.
  Sixth: Trial and Error: Simple testing or trying out something, followed by decision making.
  Finally: Reasoning: This is the highest kind of learning, and requires the logical thinking through of problems.

Nowhere have I Included memorization in the learning process.

Memorization is a storage and retrieval process. The computer does that. It doesn't require thinking. Forgetting is a major portion of memorization. Constant repetition of the same fact is required for memorization. It is an important part of lower types of learning. So is forgetting. Memorization is the least important in reasoning.

Reinforced instinct and types of conditioning are features of animal training, and are relatively easy. Thinking and reasoning typify human learning. They require work and are relatively more difficult. I feel inclined occasionally to ask some students, "Are you animal or human?"

I have had students tell me that biology is irrelevant to their educational needs. I teach biology. I wonder if "irrelevant" means "too difficult"? A lot of what students are required to study in general education seems to them as irrelevant. Not so. Everything is relevant. Sometimes a faculty member might even encourage a student's attitude with a sample misplaced statement of "I don't know why you have to take that course either," usually followed by, "But as long as you have to, you have no choice." That is supposed to make it all right. However, the student now has the germ of a negative, belligerent attitude, implanted and reinforced towards, if not the professor, at least the subject.

Students, take every advantage of every course and subject you possibly can. You will be preparing yourself for your calling. That is what you are here for. The Lord didn't say, "Learn just those easy things that make you happy." He said learn everything that was, is, and will be--what's on the earth, in the earth, and above the earth, of what is at home, abroad, of wars, perplexities, nations, judgments, countries and kingdoms (D&C 88: 77-79). He said, "Learn."

There is a subtle but real downgrading in the minds of many students, from the first day on campus, towards much of the general education courses. I am convinced much of that is due to the inactivity of many of the students' major advisors. It seems some advisors are willing to have their students receive their advice from any source. Students need and rightfully deserve the advice and guidance of a major professor who should know what the student must do to learn and become functional in his chosen field. Maybe the fault lies in the fact that some, or many, of the faculty come straight from university student status to university faculty without any real experience in the real world. I'm in favor of sabbatical leaves or professional development leaves that would require the faculty member to labor productively in the real world, away from a campus.

Let us make education more objective and practical.

And this leads to my third point: education is a thinking, reasoning, problem solving process that requires time, patience, practice and hard work.

School today involves too little thinking and problem solving. It consists of too much fact in too little time, which is poorly distributed in the first place. Emphasis is on accumulation of facts. Fact is supreme. Many, if not most, students come to us preconditioned by their previous educational experience to the concept of memorization. This is especially true of those students who come from schools where facts and examinations are a way of life. Gobs of facts delivered during the primary school years leave little time for thinking. Students actually detest it, but by habit and conditioning, gobble it up. Disillusion[ment] is the result.

Cramming does not stimulate students to question or to appreciate the beauty of learning. There is no time to think, to wonder, to ponder--just time to memorize facts. Speaking to Oliver Cowdery through Joseph Smith (and consequently to us all), what did the Lord say about learning? He said:

you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.

But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.

But if it be not right you shall have no feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong. . . . (D&C 9: 7-9)

The emphasis here is on "you must study it out." Even in the scientific method, the scientist must "study it out." The confirmation process may be different in science, but the initial starting point is the same. "Study it out." This does not indicate cramming or memorizing, but thinking, pondering, considering--in your mind--utilizing communication with the Lord through prayer, and not ruling out the practical examinations and experiments of science, to confirm your hypothesis. This is the way you learn, individually, and learning is an individual activity.

No two students can learn at the same rate or in the same manner. Teaching should be adapted to the needs of the individual student. The teacher should be like a physician. Compare the teacher to these three physicians:

Each physician has a waiting room full of 30 patients, each patient with a different ailment. The first doctor enters and says, "Everyone line up. Today I'm giving blue pills." How long would you go to that doctor for treatment? You are all getting the same medicine, regardless of your need. Many teachers teach this way.

The second doctor enters and as he opens his medicine cabinet he says, "Choose your own medicine." How in the world is the patient supposed to know what will make him well? Much of progressive education is like that.

The third doctor takes his patients one at a time, examines each and prescribe[s] for each depending on the results of the examination.

By which doctor do you want to be treated? By which teacher do you want to be taught? Yet many of us are happy to be taught by the teacher who is handing out blue pills to everyone and many of us are extremely happy in uneducated ignorance to choose our own medicine. There are many teaching and learning techniques. All must fall into one of these three categories. However, the better methods utilize the personalized system of instruction as described by Ben A. Green.2 He found his method works well for classes from 10-1,000 students, but best in groups of 50-150. The system is based on "learning for mastery." If a student tries to learn something and doesn't quite make it, he doesn't give up, but instead is allowed (encouraged) to try again until he does make it. I like this philosophy. I call the system the "open entry-open exit" system. I'd like to see it used on this campus.

Most instructors, by experience, know what material it takes to constitute a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 credit-hour course. Why can't a student begin a course at any time in the calendar year for credit, based on the material to be covered? Open entry. Then take whatever time he needs to learn, not memorize, but learn the material constituting the credit. When he shows competency in the material, move on. Open exit. When he acquires sufficient credit, in the proper sequence, he then becomes certified and graduates. How can this be done? Easy: 1. Put the course in writing. A complete syllabus enumerating just exactly what the student is to learn and how to do it. 2. Use class time to assist the students individually, or in small groups, to know and understand what is to be done. 3. Utilize student helpers, both undergraduates and graduates, as proctors. It helps the tutoring student because he who does the explanations of a principle is the greatest learner. 4. Use a variety of incentives to encourage the student to work hard and independently on the course subject: extra-credit assignments, extra-credit quizzes, extra-credit investigations, extra-credit written results, etc.

At this point, I must say that administration and faculty are not solely responsible for poor teaching. Students are just as much at fault. Ingrained by previous schooling with the habit of getting the facts to pass the examination, finding out what the teacher thinks and then correctly on an examination telling the teacher what he thinks, the student has been conditioned to avoiding the thinking/reasoning activities and processes. Occasionally, students are found in the class with a tape recorder. There is nothing wrong with that, and some teachers advise them to do just that. However, I wonder at the value of it when the recording is transcribed, copies duplicated and dispersed among stay-at-home students who cram over the transcriptions to prepare for the next test, and then forget it all. Is this education? Many students avoid laboratories where knowledge is revealed in well-planned, well-executed experiments that develop the problem solving ability. After a three-hour lab one time, I overheard a student say, "I enjoyed that today." His companion replied, "Yeah, but I could have learned all that at home in 20-30 minutes." But would he? Many seminars are avoided for the same reason. Lost is any curiosity or participatory problem solving. Just get the facts.

What makes this very sad is that in the student avoidance of these activities most of them don't really get the facts in the easier alternate activities. At the end of each semester I am deluged with students who want to know, "What can I do for extra credit?" How much happier I would be if I should hear them say, "What can I do for extra learning?"

Let me be clear and not misunderstood. Facts are essential. Problems cannot be solved without the proper sequential arrangement of facts. But the answer may not be there even after the facts are arranged properly. Students must learn to handle uncertainty. Emphasis on facts alone does not remove uncertainty any more than it teaches problem solving.

It is vital to replace the concept of learning as fact gathering to pass examinations with the concept of education as inquisitiveness, sequential thought, problem solving and the satisfaction that results from that new knowledge.

Now, my fourth point: education is a never-ending continuum binding preschool, pre-college, college, post-graduation and life into a united whole.

We need to rid ourselves of the concept that a four-year education makes one a completed individual, particularly in a religion where we teach the principle of eternal progression. I cherish the memory of the commencement address at my own high school graduation. I had always assumed that my graduation would be an end in itself. The speaker, wise as he was, developed the theme that we were only now beginning, being only partially prepared. How quickly I found out he was correct. We must constantly be engaged in preparing ourselves. If we stop, life will move on without us, and tomorrow we will be unprepared. I like the way the physician refers to his profession as his practice. With each new patient the M.D. learns more.

An education should be continuous in 4 areas: 1. A specific discipline; 2. In general knowledge; 3. Ethics and self-control; 4. Individual maturity.

I think our institution has done, and is doing, well in these areas, with the possible exception of some desirable improvement in some of the major disciplines. A student's major needs to be much more practical, especially for the specific clientele for whom this institution was established. Let me quote from the report of the LDS Oahu Stake Committee appointed at the request of the First Presidency in 1951 to investigate the possibility of starting a junior college at Laie. Their report concluded:

1. . . . [T]he school should be located at Laie. . . . 2. . . . [I]t should be predominately a boarding school. 3. . . . [I]t should. . . embrace the last two years of high school and the first two years of college. 4. . . . [T]he curricula should include many vocational courses. 5. . . . [It] should begin [the following September], 1952. (Woolley et al.)

They then presented a step-by-step process to bring this about. Needless to say, the school was established not in 1952, but in 1955. It began as a two-year junior college and has grown Into a four-year university. We are more or less a boarding school. Vocational courses were offered in the original curriculum, nearly lost for a while, then reinstated. The facts stand that the early founders saw the need for practical courses. That need is still with us today. A four-year college education should be a very practical introduction to one's future life's work, with the stimulus to go on, on one's own, and become a continuum.

Now I wish to speak to my fifth point: leaning requires a fine balance between practical training and formal instruction.

That balance does not exist in many courses. By formal instruction I mean lecturing. When properly prepared and well presented, lectures are a good teaching and learning method. I don't claim to be an expert in this area, and I'm sure I have need for improvement. The first thing most lecturers can do to improve is to at least update and review their notes. Otherwise, their lecture becomes the same old thing over and over, and a phonograph record or tape could do as well, and be less expensive. The lecturer who does not update and review becomes at the most an entertainer, and at the least a baby-sitter. Now don't go calling your instructor a baby-sitter unless you are willing to admit you are the baby.

Lectures can be very profitable and good. They can present basic fact, introduce new facts, place emphasis, especially place emphasis on facts. They can establish concepts, correct misconceptions, stimulate ideas, and present a core of knowledge and principles. All of this cannot be obtained from the laboratory or from attempts to individually read textbooks crowded with facts. However, some students do very well by individual self-study and challenging courses. But not all students. Neither is the mere fact that some lectures may not be very good (and some are really bad) be sufficient reason to discredit all lectures. Good lecturing is an art that can be learned. We who teach must learn to lecture properly, if we are going to lecture, or should not impose ourselves upon the students.

Winslow R. Hatch said, "Teaching. . . is what is left after the teacher stops transmitting information" (5). I think he meant learning. Students learn the same way as their teachers. This is called "research" or "inquiry." The teacher should be a counselor to confirm or redirect a student as the student goes through his learning process. This is where the practical portion for most courses comes Into the process. For the sciences and the vocational courses, this is the laboratory. For others it could be the library or the field.

Thomas Clemens said, "While the American college student is probably better housed today than was a college student 50 or even 10 years ago, it is not at all clear that he is better taught" (1).

Robert Gagné said [that] the first thing a teacher should know about teaching is to know enough not to teach (Gagné and Briggs 190). The word "teach", as used here, is understood to mean "inform." The student should be allowed to discover and learn as much as possible on his own. It has been reported by both Allen O. Pfenister and Thomas S. Parson of the University of Michigan (Parson, Ketcham, and Beach), and also by Winslow Hatch (13) of the U. S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, that students can inform themselves, if they will, and do it as well without a teacher's personal intercession, as with it (Oberlin ctd. in Hatch and Bennet 31).3 But most students want to be taught. They want the personal intercession of the teacher. Consequently, we will continue to have universities and professors. Besides, the world requires a diploma, a degree, a piece of paper--the consequent "paper chase."

What must be done to balance the formal instruction with the practical training is to define and state the objective of the education. John B. Gilpin said, "Everybody talks about defining educational objectives, but almost nobody does anything about it" (vii). He goes on to list three requirements:

  1. What is to be taught?
  2. How will we know when it is taught?
  3. What materials and procedures will work best to teach what we wish to have learned? (vii)

Henri R. Manasse outlined a set of goals for a self-directed study course, which I think are worth listing here: 1. Allow "student progress through the curriculum completely devoid of time barriers and at a rate commensurate with their motivations and abilit[y]" [1].

I personally believe there needs to be a limit as to how slow a student should be allowed to progress, or at least if his progress stops, that would be the end of his matriculation.

2. Create instruction "methodologies" to allow the curriculum to become self-instructional" (Manasse [1]).

3. "Adaptation of a computer network" to the "curriculum needs of [the] personalized instruction" (Manasse [1]).

These are the popular audio-tutorial programs on computers. In this kind of educational program, the teacher becomes the educational administrator. This would be strictly practical. Maybe some will think too much so. However, if you are beginning to think "self-instruction," good! Then we are a little closer to a fine balance. What I'm attempting to say is [that] there are too many courses that rely entirely on lecture, without any self-instruction. Homework and assignment fulfilling is rarely self-instructional.

Self-instruction requires individual problem solving and reasoning. Self-instruction alone may be as objectionable as total lecture. But the two methods working together are more beneficial than the results of each working separately.

And now we come to my sixth point: learning requires improved education procedures that correctly assess progress and competence.

Most examinations do not test the student's ability to think, reason and solve problems. Most tests merely examine recall and memorization ability. Some students have held that evaluation procedures, especially written examinations, only deter learning. They maintain that they are mature, dedicated and able to evaluate their own knowledge and progress. Would that this was so. I dislike examinations as much as the students, but it is not true that students can judge themselves. I don't believe that even the teacher, who has been instructing and counselling them, can properly evaluate his own students. I believe the best evaluations come from a third, non-involved source. This idea is opposed by most teachers. I wonder if it is because those teachers are usually either teaching the test or only testing what they taught, and not really evaluating the student's progress and improved abilities.

The teacher should expound, explain, stimulate, direct, help and counsel. Their evaluations are helpful, if honest, but they are too frequently incorrect, not objective and most often too favorable to their own methods and students. This is especially true in large classes, with many sections, involving many different instructors with different abilities, aims, and standards. Truly, the varied evaluations in such a situation are of questionable value. Why does a student earn an "F" or "D" in one class of many sections, then turn right around the next semester and receive an "A" or "B" in the same class, different instructor, different section? I asked a student that very question once. His answer was, "I liked the second teacher better." I wish he had said he learned to like the subject matter better. I wonder if he really learned more the second time around? I wonder how much personality substituted for progress?

I recommend standardized examinations for all subjects, constructed of thought-provoking and problem-solving questions, and not constructed or administered by the course instructors. And furthermore, I am opposed to letter grades, that is, quantitative grading and grade point averages as they are now used. The record should show the progress and the level of competency performance the students achieved. The time required to do all this should be an integrated part of the evaluation. His ability to think, reason and objectively plan and to execute the plan should be part of the evaluation. Quantitative grading is not all bad, but it needs some kind of modification. His age and maturity (not the same thing) should be included. By maturity, I mean how responsible the individual is for his own actions. An irresponsible individual should receive a very low evaluation.

And this brings me to my seventh point: learning requires adherence to a standard of excellence.

I feel that the standard for excellence has declined greatly over the past few decades. I have had the misfortune of having in some of my classes over the past few years students from local high schools who cannot read or write. This declining standard of education seems to be primarily the results of social pressures, such as: it is important for Johnny's personality development to remain with his peer group; or the results of faulty evaluations, especially evaluations that have been lowered to meet the social need and consequent lowering of academic standards. The passing grade has been lowered from 70 percent to 60 percent, and even 55 percent is not unheard of. Rather than exact a standard of excellence, faculty are grading on the curve of student performance. When I was in an undergraduate class of nearly 100 students, I liked the curve. It almost always guaranteed me a higher grade. But in graduate school, with everyone in a class of ten students in the 90% level, the curve was devastating. I very quickly learned to dislike the curve. With the curve, the mean or medium grade for the class sets the level for passing and for honor grades. In effect, poorer students who pull down the mean are setting the standards. In addition, marginal and repeatedly failing students are advanced into the upper class years, that level of education where the faculty almost never dares to flunk anyone out of school. Such non-academic factors as warmth, commitment, compassion and personality, all of which are impossible to evaluate, are allowed to overrule academic performance, and inadequately prepared students are allowed to graduate.

It is also possible that student pressure on the administration can cause faculty members to upgrade failing students. Unfortunately, this has happened. The pass/fail system of grading further undercuts standards of excellence. I earlier said I disliked grades. I wish that I didn't feel this way. Grades should give us a standard of excellence. But as I've said, they do not always do that. In some institutions, stung by the hated interpersonal competition in college, students have induced faculties to institute the ambiguous pass/fail grading system. It is unrealistic. The just barely passing students gets the same grade as the extremely excellent student. We tried it in biology seminar but have given it up.

Students have insistently argued that quantitative grading causes bad competition, cheating, lying, etc., which interferes with the learning process. Yes, I can see that--so out with letter grades. But quantitative grading does not cause bad competition, cheating, lying, etc. The lack of ethics does that. Even the non-cheater is affected. Students fail to report the cheater for fear of ostracism by other students. For the same fear, some even make it easier for the cheater. I have more to say on ethics in a moment.

Until a better system is worked out, letter grades give the incentive for one to do one's best. As I have already said, some modification and more clarification is needed. But all students deserve to know what they have earned. Every potential employer deserves to know what he is hiring. Presently, the best we have is the quantitative grades. They inform students and others of student standing. Letter grades require students to face up to their level of competence, and tells them what degree of improvement is needed.

And now, finally, my eighth point: learning requires and demands at all levels the highest ethical conduct.

I feel this is most important, especially at this institution. I have held this point to the last, because of my desire to put special emphasis on it. Often this subject is regulated to the Religion Division or the campus stakes, and there left to whatever fate it encounters. It is not enough. Ethics is not taught by lectures or seminars or sermons. Those techniques have only theoretical implications. Even public and campus outcries against low ethics in daily living are not sufficient. One teaches ethics by living ethics, by expressing ethics in daily actions: by actually doing what is said. Therein begins the habit--I hope a good habit, that will last a lifetime. Ethical conduct includes everyone from the first and highest to the last and least.

Ethics covers a wide field of activities, such as conduct in teaching or learning, conduct in employment, conduct involving each other, and many others. I cannot, in the time remaining, fully develop all I would like to say about ethics, but there are some activities I would like to stress. The first is the obligation of the institution and its employees to the student. Both the University and the Polynesian Cultural Center were established for the benefit of the students. The student should be the first consideration at both establishments, especially the University. At this point, I would like to recommend you read Steve Tippets' article in the January 14, 1982 Ke Alaka'i (3). His article was about easy grades. Of course, what he referred to was in other institutions. But it is worth considering. Besides grades, we should consider the student's schedule. Never should a student be required to take courses that won't benefit him. We should be honest in our recruitment of students to campus and into majors or specific classes. Some years ago I had a student advisee who was about halfway through his major curriculum, when he expressed to another professor his desire of getting through his education a little faster. I don't fully blame the professor. I'm sure the student did not fully and ethically present the problem. The professor recruited him into his courses where he would help get him through his schooling much faster. But it didn't work that way. To this date, the former student has not finished his degree requirements.

I have had students who had special education needs for fields we do not teach. In such cases I have assisted the students into the schools where they could accomplish their desires. I was severely criticized by some for doing that. I felt chastised, but unrepentant. Let's never be dishonest with a student. If we can't help him, let's get him to where he can get the help he needs.

Also, how often is the work schedule of a student adjusted to his educational needs, compared to the times his educational schedule is adjusted to the needs of his employer. With activities such as these, we are teaching very poor ethics.

And conversely, students, are you always being honest with the

University staff and faculty or with your employer? All students have signed an agreement to live by a code of ethical standards. Yet to some it merely means those standards the individual has selected to live. Cheating, stealing, lying and many more serious actions prevail, right here on this campus. There is the student who submits a time card for wages, when he has not done the work. I had a student tell me on a campus landscaping job some years back, that he didn't take the job to do that kind of work, but to work off the loan. I think he thought the administration should just disregard the loan balance. But since they didn't, or wouldn't, all he wanted to do was put in his time.

And in regards to cheating, the cheater only hurts himself. I remember a premed student who cheated his way through physiology. If he gets through medical school, I feel sorry for his future patients. This is one of the reasons insurance rates are so high on malpractice fees. My comments could be unending on this subject.

I wanted to say something about the bike riding on the campus sidewalks. But where do I stop? Perhaps with this statement: all that is taught and learned is of no use unless we teach by our actions and learn good ethics.

I would like to conclude with repeating Naomi Randall's lyrics with a little alteration of my own:

I am a child of God,

And He has sent me here,

Has given me this excellent school,

With teachers good and dear.

Lead me, guide me, walk beside me.

Help me learn the way.

Show me all that I must do,

To dwell with Him some day.

I humbly pray, in the name of Christ, that we all might improve our educational concepts.


1Ed. Note. Karen Lynn Davidson credits Spencer W. Kimball with recommending a change in wording to Naomi Randall (303-304); Dalton provides no source for attributing the alteration to President McKay. Back to Top

2Ed. Note. The Center for Personalized Instruction, long associated with Georgetown University, recently closed its doors. Ben A. Green, Jr., a champion of the personalized instruction concept in the early seventies, not only devised his own system to which Dalton here refers, and which was available through the Center itself, but also initiated a periodical in 1971, System of Personalized Instruction Newsletter, promoted a series of conferences concerning the issue, and edited the proceedings of one of these, the Second National Conference on Personalized Instruction, held 21-22 March 1975, in Los Angeles. While Green himself presented no paper at this conference, his Foreword to the proceedings confirms his belief in the system (v-vi). Back to Top

3Ed. Note. Dalton notes that, when he was gathering data on independent study in education for his lecture, "Pfenister. . . [was] associated with the University of Michigan" (Patrick D. Dalton to Jesse S. Crisler, 19 November 1992). Back to Top

Works Cited

The Bible.

Clemens, Thomas. Foreword. Approach to Teaching. Washington, D. C.: GPO, 1966. 1.

Davidson, Karen Lynn. Our Latter-day Hymns: the Stories and the Messages. Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1988.

The Doctrine and Covenants.

Gagné, Robert M. and Leslie J. Briggs. Principles of Instructional Design. New York: Holt, Rinehart, 1974.

Gilpin, John B. Foreword. Preparing Objectives for Programmed Instruction. By Robert F. Mager. San Francisco: Fearon Publishers, 1962.

Green, Ben A., Jr. Foreword. Proceedings of the Second National Conference held by the Center for Personalized Instruction, [21-22 March 1975]. Ed. Ben A. Green, Jr. Washington, D. C.: Georgetown UP, 1976. v-vi.

Hatch, Winslow R. Approach to Teaching. Washington, D. C.: GPO, 1966.

Hatch, Winslow R. and Ann Bennet. Independent Study. Washington D. C.: GPO, 1960.

McKay, David O. Address. Ground Breaking Service, The Church College of Hawaii, 12 February 1955. [Laie]: [Church College of Hawaii], [1955]; original ts. in Church College of Hawaii History Collection, Archives, Brigham Young University- Hawaii.

Manasse, Henri R., Jr. "A Self-Paced, "Self Instructional Curriculum in Pharmacy." Abstract of a paper presented to the Second National Conference on Personalized Instruction in Higher Education. Center for Personalized Instruction, Los Angeles, 21-22 March 1975.

Parson, Thomas S., Warren A. Ketcham, and Leslie R. Beach. "Effects of Varying Degrees of Student Interaction and Student-Teacher Contact in College Courses." Project 2, Instructional Research Program, School of Education, U of Michigan, 1958.

Randall, Naomi W. "I Am A Child of God."

Tippets, Steve. "Grade Inflation: It'll Blow You Up!" Ke Alaka'i 14 January 1983: 3.

Woolley, Ralph E. et al. to First Presidency, n. d. Reuben D. Law Collection, Archives, Brigham Young University-Hawaii.