I guess the fault lays with all of us to a degree. The election of school board trustees tends to be ignored and those who do vote often don’t look too terribly closely at who they are voting for or what these people plan to bring to the education standards table. Due to this apathy we have allowed officials to whittle away at all forms of individual responsibility or performance measurement in the classroom.
Every now and then we see eruptions of annoyance when absurd policies from the banning of games that dare to be competitive as musical chairs, dodge-ball and tag. There are movements afoot to ban scorekeeping in sports and of course decades of “social passing” has ensured that no student’s self-esteem need be damaged no matter how poorly they perform academically.
We have actually hit the point where students are being taught that even if they do absolutely nothing, they will still receive a grade. In the link above, there is a poll asking for reader input on the policy banning giving zeros in the classroom. While web-polls are of limitted veracity at the best of times, the number of voters and the clear indication of support on one side of this issue is striking.
As of this posting, nearly 12,000 people have voted in the poll. 96.7% of poll respondants oppose this myopic policy!
Despite such clear and overwhemling public opposition to this stupid policy, the Edmonton Public School Board is sticking to it’s guns and may indeed fire Lynden Dorval for his daring to not reward students for doing nothing. Who’s kids are these anyway? Does the opinion of the parents and future employers mean utterly nothing to the school board? Does it even strike these fools for a second that when 97% of the population disagrees with you that you may indeed be wrong?
Let’s look at the outcome of this culture of coddling that we are building. Literacy is a rather good skill to have going forward in life. There are fewer better ways to ensure that a person advances poorly in the professional world than to release them into it without adequate reading skills. Well as of 2006 it was determined that 42% of Canadians are semi-literate!
In light of such disturbing, embarassing and outright dangerous statistics, school boards and teacher’s unions have embarked on a crusade against testing of children on all possible levels. These groups are not as interested in educating children as they are in covering up any measures that may expose their abysmal performance. Have you ever noted how aside from demanding more money teacher’s unions are most strongly focussed on ending standardized testing? That speaks volumes.
Think of what is being done to these kids. Many kids with special learning needs are sliding through the system as they are never properly tested and graded. Social passing policies ensure that these kids graduate no matter how little of the actual learning material they have actually absorbed. A deep sense of entitlement has been built into these kids as they have not even been allowed to lose in a simple game of tag and they have learned that they will be rewarded even if they refuse to undertake even the most simple of school assignments. Now how well will these kids do when they get a job? How are these kids doing when they get to a post-secondary institution and discover that they will indeed be failed if they do not do or understand the work?
In real life there is no ribbon for participation. Learning how to fail is as important as learning how to win. Schools should not be some cruel dog-eat-dog environment of hyper-competition and strict grading. Schools should be preparing students for life though and with policies such as the “No zero” crap we can be assured that the schools are failing terribly.
In Quebec we have seen thousands of entitled post-secondary students protesting in the streets screaming against a modest tuition increase that would still leave them with the lowest tuition rates in North America. It is our public education system that has created this unrealistic sense of entitlement on the part of these students as they are essentially having a collective temper-tantrum upon discovering the most modest realities of adult life and responsibilities. I wonder how many of those students are actually staying on the streets in order to hide from the course material that they discovered that they can’t handle do to “social passing” policies?
Unfortunately this incremental idiocy takes nearly a generation to really hit us all. I like to think that it is peaking and we will push back in order to regain some common sense in our education system. The first step is for us all to engage in elections of both provincial parties and school board officials. Make it clear. Toss the ivory tower fools out on their asses if they insist on a continuation of this foolishness in education. Teach them that if they do not perform for us, we will give them a failing grade at the ballot box. We will all benefit from that in the end.