#3 – Thoughts from Week of October 1

This week we continued our presentations. We had lots of discussion including competition in the classroom, social injustices in the classroom regarding ethnicity, and grading theories.

One of the presentations that has stuck with me was one that included the 0 v 60 policy. This policy of giving students 60’s who haven’t completed work or other reasons is something that I haven’t thought about in depth before, or really even knew existed. This policy is an up and coming (or should I say “already here”) theory on grading. Should I give the student a 0 for not turning in work, or should I give them a 60?

60

The argument is that if a student doesn’t turn in work, there is no criteria that constitutes a 0, if you are grading for mastery of the material, if there is no work to prove what they know. What gives the teacher the right to “give” a 0 if the student has turned in no work to earn or prove that they know zero amount of information. Another argument in support of the 60 side is that giving students a 60 knocks them down, but doesn’t put them out of the fight. It creates a buffer for the student to improve later in the class, and allows the student to bounce back if they do more work later.

0

The 0 side of this argument is more cut and dry, and has been practiced for many years. (disclaimer: traditions DO have the potential to create the best and most detrimental situations**) The zero side is more focused on earning points. Every student is given 0 points to being with, and if you don’t turn in work to prove you now more than zero percent of the information, then a 0 is how much you “know”.

Admittedly, it is very hard for me to accept the 60 policy. I understand the argument behind giving students a 0, even when they have not proved they know 0 percent of the information. This is where consideration of the entire child is to be put in place (which I think is the backbone of the 60 policy). The teacher has the opportunity, and therefore responsibly to teach the student self-responsibility, time management, hard work, the importance of education, goal setting, consequence, overcoming obstacles, and so so much more – of which include admitting where you are wrong, learning from your mistakes, improving from identified mistakes, and changing toxic behavior like laziness, lethargy and apathy.  These are all valuable lessons learned in the process of working towards a good grade, or “coming back” from a bad grade; personally, I think these lessons are too valuable and hold too much stock, if you will, in the process of building character to be ignored or crutched. Grit is something that I value in a person. I think it is a character trait in today’s society that is being subsidized by the never-ending shadow of the doubt, pat on the back, everybody gets a trophy society that is shaping our youth today.

I don’t want to confuse my point of providing a crutch with providing opportunity, though. At the beginning of  this class, Dr. Kay said, “If I’m a coach, and if you’re a player – and you ask me if you can shoot free throws after practice to improve your performance, the answer is OF COURSE you can learn more and get better, of course.” I think this philosophy should be applied to every classroom, because at the end of the day, all that matters is student learning. As a classroom facilitator, it is about meeting students where they are in order to maximize student learning. This may look like extra credit opportunities, working to learn what they proved to not know the first time, or just more opportunities to learn (and prove they learn) in general. I think by doing this, this meets students where they are, all while continuing to teach taking responsibility for their actions.

This topic is something I could debate and dwell on far longer than this blog, and I’m glad we had the opportunity to discuss it in class, because it has opened my eyes to a new theory in education .

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