February 10, 2012

We’re All Doomed: What I Have Been Told About High Schools

I was going to write about music. Maybe I’ll do that for tomorrow. But I had this conversation with Cara and it just blew me away (IGN.com) and I just have to ramble about it a little. Luckily, I have this blog to do so. It’s like I planned this or some shit!

Anyway, I was telling Cara about the student not knowing he was taking the test and the eventual failure of basically everyone in the class on that test. She has been substitute teaching in local high schools for awhile now, and offered me some stories to attempt to explain this thing. If anyone else but her told me these stories, I would have said they were made up to fuck with me. I was literally floored. I will share them with you now.

She first told the story of a straight A kid that slept through a test she was giving to the students. When asked if he was feeling sick, the student told her that he’s fine, he just didn’t get enough sleep, so he’ll talk to the teacher and take the test another day. This seemed crazy enough to me. But Cara then told me that it is school policy to let students retake tests until they “get a grade they are happy with.” So this student, who has seen the test now but not even attempted it, will now go look up the answers and then retake the same test and ace it. If he doesn’t ace it, he can try another time. This is apparently a thing a real high school is doing.

It didn’t end there, though. Cara then told me about a school that had a “no 0 policy.” Basically, a teacher can’t give you a 0 on an assignment. A bad grade, sure, but not a 0. So if you don’t want to take a test, you just need to write absolutely nothing on the paper. Then they are required to let you take it again, but again, you now know exactly what’s on the test and if you aren’t an idiot, you’ve looked up the answers. The same goes for assignments. If you don’t turn them in, you’re pestered to turn them in because the teachers can’t give you a 0. Apparently you have to go to Saturday school and do the assignments there? But you have help. You don’t need to worry about it.

This doesn’t even count stories I’ve been told about how there aren’t enough books to have take-home reading assignments for literature classes.

This made me really angry. Like, really angry! At some point, I have truly become a teacher, and I really care about the quality of education people are given. I looked at Cara, walked off, and said “We’re all doomed,” because that’s how I felt. The next generation has no fucking chance if this is really what we’re doing. No wonder I see so many students struggling with the very concept of actually having to turn things in on time and actually putting forth effort in class. It made me very glad my parents decided to pay to send me to a private high school where I actually had to do shit. I mean, I breezed through that too. But at least I had responsibilities. Goodness.

I’ve heard I’m a pretty strict and demanding teacher. But dammit, my students who don’t drop out LEARN SOMETHING. They tell me they learn something. They tell me they’ve learned more than they thought they would in my class. That’s because I make them put forth effort, and once they have to try, they can figure this stuff out. Once you give a shit, magically, things happen.

Ugh. Doomed, I say. We’re all doomed.

My Brother has been a student teacher for a little while up here in New York, he told me about these problems before so I’m interested that it’s all over the country. He says another problem is standardization, where instead of people being able to teach in a way that works they are being forced to ‘teach for tests’ basically there only goal is to teach students so they can pass a test and that’s all. Which He and I believe is a bad way to go about and do it.

Comment by Kale — February 10, 2012 @ 8:14 am

Sadly, the “no 0” policy doesn’t surprised me in a world of “social promotions” (because repeating a grade hurts self esteem) and schools that prohibit teachers from using red pens to grade papers (because it’s an “angry” color or some such shit).

Comment by Cris — February 10, 2012 @ 10:44 pm

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