Keeping Students Happy

“Stop worrying about [your] feelings for once and worry about your grade.”

― Kasie West

Yesterday I wrote of a young man who’s blaming the school system for denying him (and others like him) an education and opportunities lost because of his repeated suspensions from school for his “misbehaviors”. I told him if he got suspended, blame himself. Or maybe his parents.

But if there is any blame to be equally applied to schools for student’s future failures, here’s a couple of examples:

Its been my opinion for a long time now that, as a society, we’ve gone overboard to the extreme worrying about other’s feelings, especially self-worth, and go to ridiculous lengths to avoid making anybody feel they aren’t special.

Just as in some youth sports programs today, where every kid makes the team (no more “cuts” for inability to play), gets rotated into the game (even if they don’t play well at all and it may result in a loss) and receives a trophy (just for showing up), and in some leagues where they don’t even keep score anymore (so everyone is a winner), so too in some of our schools.

Instead of making a student who can’t or won’t learn repeat a grade, there are “social promotions” to the next grade so they won’t feel shame or failure among their peers.

Tsk, tsk.

What does this teach? That their emotions, such as personal happiness, are more important than anything else, including the truth and what they really deserve.

Which is, they haven’t demonstrated an acceptable level of ability and their failure to meet minimum standards should not be rewarded, they should be penalized until they show improvement or be dismissed. 

That’s how the real adult world operates – just ask any college student who doesn’t pass their courses, or any employee who doesn’t do their job – and it’s just not right not to teach that to children from the get-go.

But I think I’ve heard everything now about worrying about not hurting kid’s feelings.

Some schools now (I’m told) are forbidding teachers to use red ink or red pencil when correcting student tests and papers – it’s demoralizing to students to have their errors so blatantly pointed out, it’s explained. It’s embarrassing. It hurts their feelings.

Oh, my. 

The color red has always served as a wake-up call that something is really important: a red alert means danger ahead; a red octagonal sign means stop; a red card means you’re out of the game; a red sky in the morning is a sailor’s warning not to leave port; “in the red” means you’re spending money faster than you’re making it; and livid means red with anger (like me, over today’s pedagogy, how and what is taught – or not taught – our children, both in school and at home.)

Red has always served as a warning, and on school papers has always indicated “Attention! This is wrong”.

Will black or blue ink, or pencil gray, impart the same seriousness and need for attention?

I doubt it.

But that’s okay, we mustn’t say, “Stop worrying about your feelings and worry about your grades.”

And since schools and districts and teacher’s unions are fighting to eliminate any method or measure that reveals just how poorly they or their students are performing, I suppose the day will come when we’ll stop grading altogether and hand out diplomas just for showing up to class.

And then just for enrolling.

And the kids will be happy.

And teachers will keep their jobs and the schools will keep getting our tax money.

And the rest of us will continue funding Welfare for those unable to find or keep a job after they “graduate”.

-Bill

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