Saturday, February 21, 2009
effort and expectation
If you teach, then this article on grade conflicts and student expectations, originally published in the New York Times,  is worth a read.  Basically, it says what any teacher already knows: most students (and I'd add most parents as well) think that if they show up and try hard, then they should never receive a grade lower than a "B."  This passage drove me particularly nuts:

“I think putting in a lot of effort should merit a high grade,” Mr. Greenwood said. “What else is there really than the effort that you put in? If you put in all the effort you have and get a C, what is the point?” he added. “If someone goes to every class and reads every chapter in the book and does everything the teacher asks of them and more, then they should be getting an A like their effort deserves. If your maximum effort can only be average in a teacher’s mind, then something is wrong.”

No, Mr. Greenwood, nothing is wrong."C" means average, and if all it takes to be "above average" is a little bit of effort, then average ends up being pretty weak indeed. 

As I tell my own students, I once tried really, really hard to ski, but I was still complete crap at it.  I took a class, I had all the equipment, I wanted to do well, and I refused to give up, yet I still couldn't help but fall on my ass repeatedly.   Some things require more than just showing up, kids.



Blogger Gretel said...

There's effort and there's effort. I teach, and I always feel like, if a kid is putting in effort and getting a C, then he needs to put in more effort. In my mind, getting a C means that you've mastered about 70% of the material. If you haven't, then why would I write on your report card that you had?

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