When worlds collide

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Most teachers I know are accepting late work. It’s all the fashion now. Administrators cite studies in which this helps prevent students from losing motivation. Personally, I doubt the “whenever-you-get-around-to-it” homework approach yields much academic gain over time. Blasting out last-minute work (often copied from someone else’s returned papers) isn’t infusing real knowledge into the majority of our chronically-late homework-returners.

I’m watching an interesting little vignette unfold, though. The new guy in English is refusing late work. Many of his students are failing. Good or bad? I’m not sure. I know that students are more likely to do his homework. I watch them pulling out their English first in study classes. English now takes precedence over other classes since timeliness counts. I suspect English-guy is doing the right thing. Will he be stopped? The school is unlikely to accept a large percentage of failures.

Eduhonesty: We should have failed more students and we should have failed them sooner. Many paragraphs I read are sloppy, some are even unintelligible. But when we pass the students writing those paragraphs, we tell them implicitly that their work is OK. Now these students are in high school.

The conflict has been ongoing. Academically-disadvantaged schools don’t want to fail students who are not at grade level, often not close to grade level, so they pass students along. It’s this automatic passing that explains the Algebra 2 students to whom I was explaining addition and subtraction of fractions today. I think they now remember and understand the common denominator. I also think these students are in the wrong math class. You can call a kitten a lion, but that won’t make the kitten a lion. You can call a class Algebra 2. Hell, you can call the class Calculus or Nuclear Physics. If its students can’t add fractions, though, any one of those names is a fiction. Pre-algebra would be a stretch, given that the content these students don’t know sits smack in the middle of the elementary school curriculum.

I’ll be interested to see how English-guy does with the administration as he makes his stand.