May 27, 2014

Results or Effort?

Nowadays, when it comes to test results (and June is around the corner) the emphasis on results is often decried, with the new view maintaining that effort is what counts.

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.  For example, either you pass your driving test or you fail.  Effort doesn't count.

How much effort someone puts into mastering classroom material is another matter. Years ago you got marked for your mastery of a subject and there was a separate grade for effort or shekida though did you ever wonder how teachers were supposed to assess the amount of effort you put in?

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 (or an esrog etc.) 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.

Process or results ...


  1. I would think that the Mishna applies to situations like tzedukah where a person might give enough to feed the poor for the day but rely on someone else to give for the following day.

  2. Funny you write that today. Yesterday, someone claiming to be homeless asked me if I'd buy him something to drink. I went into the store with him and he took a bottle of something and I paid $2. I was hoping it was a Kiddush Hashem for anyone who saw me because I really did not want to spend the money on him otherwise, not knowing whether he was really in need.

    I wondered what to do if he saw me again and asked me again. Well, it happened. He came over and said, "Remember, you bought me a drink yesterday? I am hungry. Would you buy me something to eat?" And he said what he wanted.

    I said, "Not today," several times. He asked other people and then came back to me to ask again. I did not know whether he was truly hungry or not so this time, I took out $.50 and gave it to him toward his meal.