Wednesday, June 27, 2007

If failure is not an option- success is not an achievement.

It is year end for schools, and the push is on for teachers to get all the exams marked and entered in to the reporting system. I missed my friends at work this year, I missed some students, and I missed my paycheck, but I definitely did not miss this.

This is the end game, where you have to put forth all your proof that you did your work this year, and that those three kids you failed (never mind the 5 others you pushed through with a 50) really should not get the credit. And why are so many failing, or so close to failing? Well it is more then just a case of are not putting in the required effort, and no, you can’t always blame the teacher. The real answer is that these kids know they will be pushed through. Why should they struggle with an assignment? Why should they actually study at night? Why should they do their homework? Why should they get extra help? They would be crazy to if they knew there was an easier way. And they do. Believe me they do. They tell me so- and they laugh about it.

I will never understand how an average student can fail a class in our current educational system. There is a ton of remedial help available through Student Services, including peer tutoring programs, after school sessions, make-up assignments and endless second chances given throughout the year to hand in missing or late work. Then there are all the warnings given to the student and the parents: credit endangerment reports, phone calls home, tests sent home to be signed, and mid term reports (We won't get into a discussion now about how a parent might want to check in now and then on their own- you know, at least act the part of a concerned parent. We can't go there because my head might burst into flames and pop off my head). In my opinion, if a student fails to take advantage of all the aforementioned, and cannot show up for class on a consistent basis, prepared and ready to work, than they do not deserve the credit. Ah, but many of these wankers will get the credit anyway. Thanks to the “Failure is not an option approach” to education thrust upon teachers by a government concerned more with public perception then education.

A friend of mine, also a teacher, was discussing this on the weekend. She was teaching when the Literacy Test (Raising the standards for our kids –remember that catchy slogan?) first came out. Back then it was a two day affair, a very comprehensive test. If you did not pass this test (and you had two chances to write it) you did not graduate. Oooh tough love. The first year practically everyone failed. So that year became the “test year”. The next year the test was scaled back a bit- but the failure rate was still too high. So they scaled it back to a single day the following year. Again- too many students were failing. So now the “Literacy Test” is just a half a day long. And the kids don’t even sweat it anymore. Why is that you ask? Well if you don’t pass it after two tries now, you simply take the literacy course- you get your 50% and you are in the clear!

What was that about raising standards again? Yeah right. The only thing that changed was the expectations: the Ministry lowered them until they got the desired result. Enter government, school boards and administrators who will rave about how all that extra attention and hard work is paying off. Just look at how many kids are getting their high school diploma now!

But I wonder the worth of that diploma. After all, what have kids learned?

And what happens when these kids get out into the work force, with a poor work ethic and an inability to demonstrate the most basic skills? Who will get the blame for that?

Why the teachers of course.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Where do I begin with this? Even at the elementary level this is happening. A student, making no attempt to take responsibility for their work, going on to the next grade and then the next, til eventually they come to the end of high school. A measly 40 minutes of homework a night in grade 8 is just too much for some of these kids. The ironic thing being that they know they are going to be pushed on through the system anyways. So why should these students bother? We have students graduating from high school without the fundamental skills needed to succeed in the "real world" and with very weak literacy skills. Who is to blame? Some are daring enough to try to tell me that it is the teacher's fault. OFF WITH THEIR HEAD! I say. I have spent countless hours trying to convince these students of the importance of a good education. "Well Timmy, you will need to know how to add 1+1 so that you will not get ripped off buying that bag of chips at the store." I know this may seem a little flip but seriously here folks.....shouldn't students have to work for their marks, to develop as readers and writers and thinkers?? I think you can tell what I think of the "failure is not an option perspective."