We Need to Stop Judging Those Who "Fail"

The other day in my Physical Chemistry class, our professor showed the class distribution of scores for our first midterm. The test - which was out of 150 points - had scores from triple digits to low double digits. When explaining the grade distribution of the scores, my professor pointed to the low double digit score and remarked how those scores would be a fail.

To my shock, the class laughed at this. They laughed even though whoever received those scores was probably sitting in the classroom. As someone who has been in that position before, I just sat there: not laughing, but disgusted by my peers laughing at someone who is struggling. 

Often we forget to give others the benefit of the doubt. This leads to judging others' actions and misfortunes. I'm not trying to allude that I myself am perfect at doing this and practice it religiously, but I do often check myself.

We forget that someone could be struggling with mental health, they had a bad day/week, are balancing a school/work life, or anything else that can add stress or struggle into their life. Any of these could apply to receiving a low score on a test.

The worst part about receiving such a score is convincing yourself that you can pick yourself up from this and improve. But it's especially hard to convince yourself when a professor calls you out and your peers laugh at you.

So what can we do to fix this? We can be more supportive by being understanding. We can also stand up and speak up when someone judges. Luckily enough, before I became disappointed in my professor as well, he spoke out and gave an anecdote of how we shouldn't laugh and how he, too, was in a similar position while at Stanford Medical School. He then encouraged those struggling that it’s not too late to reach out to him to discuss options. I think this is very important to do and I was so happy he responded this way.

I once read that the first thought of judgment that comes into your mind is what society pushes us to think, but it's the second thought that defines who we truly are. Let's all make an effort for that second thought (or even first) to be kind and understanding - not only for the consideration of others, but to improve ourselves as well.

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