Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Grade Inflation for Teachers' Pets... Who Knew???

Hmmm, schools are finally catching on that grades might be affected by how the student behaves in class and not pure performance with the subject matter. This is so SHOCKING. People would NEVER allow personal feelings to influence how they punish or reward students. So people actually reward ass kissers? No way! People reward those who toe the line and make nice rather than pure ability? You're kidding me. This happens everywhere with everything we do, and I find it a bit odd that leaders in the field of education never considered this... especially with all subjects that involve essay answers or papers where grading is not true/false or specific answer. As if the education world is immune to the problems that plague the rest of human nature.

Money quote: "Over time, we began to realize that many teachers had been grading kids for compliance - not for mastering the course material".

Many people are hurt by this. Smart kids with bad behavior. Not as bright kids who are 'good kids' that follow orders that get artificially pumped up into thinking they are geniuses. Imagine being a parent with a 'smart kid' who isn't getting grades and might be a bit rebellious. Think a teachers description of unruly behavior combined with bad grades leads parents to drug their kids with ritalin? Think some kids get screwed in the college acceptance game by a teacher grading with a behavioral influence rather the pure ability? Think some young college freshmen get overwhelmed when a lifetime of A's overrode a lower SAT score to get them into a premier college or program and they just can't cut it when being Johnny Dogooder doesn't mean shit? We end up rewarding ass kissing and brown nosers up the ladder with no concrete aptitude from the moment they leave their house at age 5.

Ass kissing and brown nosing works. Human beings love flattery. Human beings in charge love it when everyone else does as they desire in their controlled environment. Someone easier to do business with or to teach makes life easier but is not always the best person for a task. A concrete life example of this was in my AP US History class in high school. Two kids: Nick the quiet daydreamer who sometimes fell asleep in class and Chris the ass kisser. Chris got Bs in our class; Nick got low Cs. Nick actually got a D one quarter, and we talked him into staying in the class to potentially get college credit. Nick was my friend and Chris was on the basketball team with me so I'd hear one way or the other how people did. Chris had been born an amazing ass kisser to every adult he came into contact with while Nick worked at Radley's Market weeknights at 15. Our entire class took the AP exam. Some for potential college credit, and some because the teacher said if you took the AP exam he'd not give you a final ($100 for no final is a deal when mom and dad pay). We got our scores back and B student Chris got a 1 and C/D Nick got a 4. We felt so happy for Nick because every US college would accept a 4 on that test for credit, and we experienced schadenfreude (without knowing that's what it was) at the teacher's pet getting a 1. Mixed in that happiness I remembered how he received Cs and Ds on papers from our teacher in that very class. A part of me knew then why the grade disparities happened between Nick and Chris, and even then I was a cynic, I thought that brown nosing was rewarded. I hated it then, and I hate it now.

Constantly teachers talk about how they shape the lives of children and how they do so much for our society. This is true. I'm all for paying teachers more earlier in their career if we could also fire them like every other worker and if their benefits were a bit closer to the rest of the nation's workers' benefit programs because of the important part school has with molding the young minds of our nation. They do shape children's lives through their engagement, their lack of engagement, their wonderful hard work and their unintentional, sometimes intentional, slights and negative actions. Grades do matter. Grades do have an impact on the trajectory of a human life. These things should not be taken lightly, nor should they be affected by Suzie or Jimmy being a good, compliant robot in class.

No comments: