Grading on the curve's long term consequences
As I have said many times before - maybe more in hopes I myself will hear it more than others - people-stuff is complicated. To write anything here that is meaningful requires discarding 99.9% of the background data in my mind - so I might as well not even try to explain more than bits and pieces of the basis.
The part that sifts out seems to be this:
When the education system switched to grading on the curve, it not only made it easier for teachers to pass more students, but it also changed the rules by which students learn. And those changed rules for being students, later became rules for living life and especially doing business and corporate philosophy.
And of course what I am commenting on here is a bell-curve thing; there are exceptions to it all, off on the slopes of the bell curve.
In school, grading on the curve made no difference to me, as a student - I think I was in high school by then. I was not particularly interested in what my grades were anyway - I was just eager to learn, particularly science and philosophy; and my main learning was through the books, since teacher's lectures were difficult for me to follow, being verbal-audio. The written word and graphics were what poured the wonders of learning into my eager learning.
But for most of the other students around me - of whom I was not very aware, as became more obvious in education after high school, grades were more important to them than the material they were to learn. They had to learn the material to get a good grade, and a good grade made very important rewards for them.
Team sports like football and basketball included implicit permission and even requirement to take thought and action to cause handicap to the opponent, as part of winning. Winning was part handicapping the opponent, and was part doing excellently as a team and individual in that team. The part about it being part of the activity to be handicapping the opponent, easily transferred over to the classroom situation, once grading under the curve was implemented.
Thus handicapping the student that got good grades easily, would drop his test scores, and thus raise the grades of everybody else in the class. This was a much easier thing to do than to study harder to learn more to get better grades.
Getting better grades in school was already part of the "who-is-better-than-whom" social framework through which most of life's goodies flowed. In higher education, there was a "publish or perish" struggle that probably really put pressure on some people. And again was part of the "who-is-better-than-whom" thing.
Thus when I was proposing my hard dreamed up technological concepts, yet to me wonderful new opportunities that could result if implemented, a huge number of other folks into the presenting of technical papers at space conferences, would see it as merely upsmanship effort by me, which is a normal thing to do as a next step in the higher levels of academics. But when they found out that I had not done the long and difficult climb up the social structure, which in academics requires advancing in formal education, it apparently seemed to them like I was cheating big-time.
From there it would be easy for them to conjecture that I had not derived the concepts myself, or wrote them up myself; I must have stolen the ideas from others or others had coached me from a hiding place. Thus the onlookers response would be to just assume I was not actually the author, thus either totally ignore me as if I did not exist, or else make effort to find out where I stole the ideas, from what high academic did I get them. Thusly their place in the social pyramid was again solidly assured, all based on their ability to climb up by getting good grades - grades derived by grading under the curve by then long established. There were ever so many cunning tricks to jerk the rug out from under those who did not comply with the social hierarchy keeping their place, and that included not getting better grades. Football ramming the opponents was by the rules, but rules also required ramming the opponent - and the smart aleck's who did not know their place and thus dared present technical papers better than theirs, were automatically open season targets to the team mentality. Sink the socially-naive brilliant person, makes all the others rise higher thereby, and thus the ones who sunk the high achievers were heroes to the team.
Now being one of those targets to be sunk by the team so all the team can look better, it makes much more sense to me why my technological concepts rarely have been acknowledged - only a couple of exceptionally honorable folks gave me a chance, like Stewart W Johnson of ASCE - although why he gave me a chance to write and present technical papers on my hoop-type space transportation structure and its applications, is not known to me, other than he must have read what I had written and was not threatened by fancied loss of his status were I acknowledged for my work.
Grading on the curve's resulting mentality by the larger number of students in classes, added the tool of seeking to handicap the ones who would get high grades easily, was added to the part of learning the lesson material long enough to pass the tests on it. Thus they more easily reached for those academic scores that led to higher earning jobs and thus more wealth and finer mates and more kids - all it took was to dispose of those few higher-grade-getting class students.
Before the grading on the curve principle came along, there were a few like me, then called geniuses, little professors. A novelty, and ultimately employed where those qualities were needed. But most jobs require avoidance of innovation, going off on your own, management is to dictate every step of the way, and thus only that which management can conceive, is allowed to happen. Nice and orderly, all the ducks in a row. Not much need for the natural innovators anymore, in the massive business machine that large corporations tended to become.
Thus no equitable employment for the little geniuses, the little professors when grown up - now called Aspergers or even "high functioning autistic" and thus considered broken, ill, dysfunctional, instead of potential leaders in new paths for the success for all. And since they were so disdained, they attracted few mates and thus their genes increasingly were fading out of the human gene pool, especially where grading on the curve was going on.
And another result the famed ingenuity of Americans, ability to innovate with leaps of comprehension and application, were of no use unless the ideas got snatched by management somewhere, who would run with the idea as if it were not something new, and of no connection to the actual originator. Thus the famed Yankee Ingenuity seems to be gone nowadays - we largely have a few leaders like Steve Jobs who sidestepped the system and made a business go, when business territory was not so locked-down as it is today by the giant corporations.
Result is that innovation has greatly slowed in America. We require bringing in people from other nations who can provide those leaps of insight that provide opportunities and solve the big problems.
Grading on the curve, along with the team principle of causing handicap to the ones with the higher grades especially if the person were a social nobody, led to that mentality having built much of the business and political world we now live in. Grading on the curve did enable more students to hang in there and graduate, and hopefully learn a bit more along the way as compared to what tended to happen before grading on the curve; thus this has been a helpful effect of grading on the curve. But it has cost the nation much of its ability to go for the great achievements that help everybody. Thus the nation crumbles into unemployment of its most valuable resource, its people.