Thursday, December 18, 2014
Does flunking students teach them a lesson?
It almost sounds silly as I write it.
Obviously, if they fail, they aren't learning the material.
But are they learning "a lesson"? Are they learning that there are consequences to their actions? Do zeros teach responsibility?
Not in my experience.
All F's do, all zeros do is slam self-efficacy, further destroy confidence, squash any last glimmer of interest in learning, and send kids further down the doom spiral.
And yet we persist in pushing the curriculum through, by, and over these kids, stream-rolling them underneath it, if necessary, as long as we can say we "covered" it. In the end they fail to learn at all... and we fail.
How about this? It's not about the curriculum. It's about them.
But let's take it a step further. Let's make the curriculum about them--about what they really need to know and be able to do, starting with honest-to-goodness meaningful standards (no, I don't think that's a contradiction in terms), and backing them up with whatever time and support it takes for them to master them.
The curriculum should not be a filter, filtering kids out of school and society. For goodness sake, it's supposed to be for them, isn't it? Aren't we?