Thinking About Education

I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think. ~Socrates

The Discrimination Behind “Easy” Grading Practices

  There seems to be a growing trend to revise grading practices so that courses are easier to pass. Some have called such practices the “soft bigotry of low expectations,” but how is bigotry ever soft? When inflationary practices began several years ago at my middle school, teachers and administrators were quiet about them; they weren’t sure they wanted parents to know that, for example, if a student turned in nothing or made.. Read More

“Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement.” ― Daniel H. Pink

  Autonomy. This is a vital characteristic of a satisfying human life. As interdependent as we and other creatures of the earth are in our communal and global ecosystems, each healthy life system is also organized around some principle. As humans, for example, we make choices, we determine what we will or will not do, or how we will relate to the larger system of which we are a part. According to Daniel.. Read More

Grading Practices Today

  Here are the general grading practices across subject areas that are widespread in my area today. I heard from a teacher in Austin, Texas, who verified that such practices are widespread there as well. 1. Teachers assign no grade lower than a 60 to any student, for any assignment. This includes giving a 60 when the student attempts no work at all. 2. For students who do not do well on a.. Read More

Bursting the Balloons of Grade Inflation

Many school districts—I wonder if this is true across the country?—are encouraging and even requiring teachers to inflate their grades. I was told I should give no grade lower than a 60 to my students, even if they earned a 0. I was also encouraged to give easier tests to students who did not perform above a certain standard and to reduce the amount of work I gave them (I am disregarding students.. Read More

The Freedom to Fail

I was complaining recently to my best friend from 7th grade who now (40 years later) lives across the continent. I said I failed to get the job I wanted and felt I had earned. She reminded me that failure was nothing new to me, so what was I moaning about?  And then I remembered so many failures…and all the wonderful things I learned from them: Choosing to ride the Tower of Terror.. Read More

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