Category Archives: Education

No Fail Policy a Failure

F GradeReport cards. I used to hate them. I hated what they stood for in my house. Good grades garnered little praise while bad grades brought unspeakable acts of punishment. The funny thing is I was highly capable of good grades, as a lot of under-achievers are. My head was so far in the clouds I just couldn’t get my head into school.

And now I’m hearing schools are implementing a ‘No Fail policy’ – no student gets a failing grade.

Let me make sure I understand what this really means.

A strong willed child, much like I was, decides he doesn’t want to do the work. The kid believes he’s too cool for school, too busy for homework, too above the educational process and knowingly or unknowingly stops engaging in the business of learning. This policy says it is not a failure on the student to learn, it’s a failure of the teacher to teach.

There’s little doubt that our educational system is basically running on life support. With unemloyment at record levels and high school drop out rates across the country averaging around 30%, educators are saying, rather than improve the students let’s lower the standards. We are saying mediocracy is okay, that you don’t have to do the work, you won’t fail, we’re going to give it to you regardless.

That may help the %30 who are struggling with the system but it’s crippling the 70% that are there to learn and in later years cripple the ones we gave it to. There’s no mulligans in the real world – no do-overs. There’s got to be a better answer. With the policy already in place across multiple years the data points to the policy itself as a failure.

Struggling StudentSchools that don’t give failing grades and work closely with the student to get them a passing grade were only able to get 16% of those students to improve their performance. At what cost, I wonder. Teachers are spending an extraordinary amount of time working with struggling students leaving scant little for those there to learn.

As a policy this is doomed to failure and will do nothing more than to promote an attitude that will fail the student in years to come. Under perform in the real world and you don’t get your hand held by your employer – you get shown the door.

Flashcards!

Dig back – way back – to a time you were waist high to Miss So-and-so, and your favorite part of the day was recess. I’m talking about days of red-rover, dodge ball, and hop scotch. To give you an idea of how far I have to dig back, I was in the third grade when President Kennedy was shot in Dallas. For a kid who’s life revolved around school and television, I was pretty well screwed for over a week. We only had three channels and for a solid week all you had was Kennedy stuff.

Seems like I can remember the teacher pulling this big box out of her drawer and inside the box were these cards.  On the cards were some simple math problems and the first one to figure it out raised a hand and gave the answer.  I also remember that I had my own box at home for studying goze-n-tahz.

Four goze-n-tah sixteen, four times, and three goze-n-tah twenty-one, seven times.  Are you with me so far? Flash cards – I’m talking about flash cards.

Once of my writing resources is online at Dictionary.com. They just launched a new component to their site. You guessed it – Flash Cards, or should I say Flash Cards on Steroids. I’ve been playing around with these for a few days and have found some of the challenges to be tough as a nickel T-Bone.  Topics span a wide range from the Arts to Recreation and Sports, Science, Religion, History, Business and the Economy, and several others.  They have card sets designed to help prepare for standardized tests such as the SAT, PSAT, ACT, GMAT and more.

I’ve heard the best way to keep your mind sharp is to use it for something other than Mafia Wars, Dallas Cheerleaders, and which celebrity checked into treatment.  If you are looking for a challenge, you will find it here.

For my writer friends this is a perfect exercise for shoring up that massive vocabulary. One card set included such words as – abstruse, acrimonious, cursory, exacerbate, innocuous, and nebulous. I found the exercises fun and challenging. Check it out!

Other flash card sites include:

http://www.flashcardexchange.com/
http://www.flashcardmachine.com/
http://quizlet.com/