Jan 4, 2010

It's Not Always the Effort that Counts

On the one hand the mishna in Avos says, "it's not for you to finish the work, nor are you free to desist from it," which would support the position that effort is what counts, not results.

We also know that a good thought is reckoned like an action.

On the other hand, if a person tries to obtain matza for Pesach and doesn't manage to get any, although Heaven will give him credit for trying, he didn't do the mitzva and did not bring about the spiritual results of a mitzva! This supports the position that results are what count, and effort, though laudable, is not good enough.

Lately, the emphasis on results is looked at askance as though only effort matters, which is a prevalent attitude about schoolwork.  I disagree with this view. I think that's what tests are for, to see if you have mastered the material. Some master it more easily than others, but the point of tests is to measure mastery of the material. How much effort someone puts into mastering it, is something else. Maybe it's no longer considered politically correct, but years ago you got marked for your mastery of a subject and there was a separate grade for effort or shekida.

On tests, yes, either you pass your driving test or you fail, right? Effort doesn't get you a license.

When it comes to tests in school, teachers may use discretion and give a higher grade to someone who truly puts in the effort and doesn't do that great anyway, but that should be the exception rather than the rule.

It's an important lesson to learn, that certain things you just have to get right.

Trying to watch the kids but getting into a phone conversation with a friend doesn't hack it when a child gets hurt because you were irresponsible (even though that too was Divine Providence).

Dropping the baby (G-d forbid) and saying oops really doesn't work either ...

Some things you just gotta get right.

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