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(NO) FEAR OF FAILURE

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With a new year beginning, Newoldschoolteacher is preparing to student teach at another school, which prompted a meditation on why one way to fail students is to not give them Fs:

I mean, we all need a little love, right? Not me, I'm a heartless robot with a soul of steel. Which is one reason I don't have a problem failing students. If a student is so behind that he/she can't catch up during the year, it is in that student's best interest to repeat and acquire the necessary skills. Likewise, a student who never does his/her work should learn that the consequence to that is failure. In the workplace, not doing work gets you fired. Schools can be more humane. Not doing work means you have to do the work anyway. Failing a grade can turn someone's life around. Even if the student hates it (or you) at the time, it might be the best thing that ever happened to him/her.

4 Comments

I always thought grades should reflect what you learned. Are we failing children as punishment for not completing homework? What an abuse of power.

I wholeheartedly agree that we should not pass students simply because the student will "feel better". I teach in a district that believes it is okay to fail Middle school kids, but we do not hold them back from high school. The problem? They get to 9th grade and fail simply because during the last few years they have not completed their assignments and therefore have not learned. Since we are basing our classes on standards, we do not reteach information that stuent should have learned 2-3 years ago. In my opinion, if we fail students, we also must retain students.

But how do we know what they've learned,or are learning, if they don't turn anything in and fail the tests, quizzes, oral assessments, etc??
I've been teaching for 18 years and I've seen the results of passing on the student who didn't pass a grade level for those reasons. BTW, parental involvement has ranged from considerable to none.

Wow, what a timely topic for me. After 9 years teaching and holding kids accountable, I have relegated myself to joining the majority of teachers who pass them. I personally do not see it as punishment for not doing work when they do not turn in assignments, whether homework or classwork. I do not give assignments that are fluff, so if they are not completing it, I cannot assess their knowledge; therefore they have not EARNED the priviledge of advancement. Currently, I teach in middle school and this is the best time, in my opinion, for them to learn from their mistakes. Unlike high school, where the stakes are much higher. However, this is not popular in this "feel good" society of today, and quite frankly, my ideology is not the popular one. Therefore, I now have found myself passing students who have not completed enough work for me to show that they are not understanding the content. For now, I will bide my time until the pendulum swings back.

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  • lcal: Wow, what a timely topic for me. After 9 years read more
  • cmharmon: But how do we know what they've learned,or are learning, read more
  • lleebs: I wholeheartedly agree that we should not pass students simply read more
  • jgerber: I always thought grades should reflect what you learned. Are read more

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