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Lesson Plans

Re: Dumbing down is driving me NUTS!

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
ricki fromkin (fromkinr)
Mon, 25 Oct 1999 21:12:19 -0400

Lisa Skeen wrote:
> Y'all, I confess I'm just about ready to quit this job. I have never
> been so frustrated over anything in my life as I am about having to
> dumb down (it seems like) everything I do because the kids in my
> school aren't up to grade level. Is this my fault (or that of any
> other teacher in my school)? No; we are a brand new school, and
> dealing with the product of the local public school system. Is any
> kid going to do better unless you push him to do better? No.
> I'm not allowed to give a student a zero (even if he's earned it), I
> have to give him a grade of sixty nine (the high end of the F grade
> range) instead, because a zero is not an F and is too hard to recover
> from. (Go figure on that one.)
> I'm not allowed to give a 2 page paper assignment to 3rd grade
> because "that's too much for them." This, in a school where there's
> supposed to be 30 minutes of homework per day per subject. Last time
> I looked, Art was a subject.
> Now I'm not going to be allowed to give real grades to any of the
> classes. We had agreed that K-2 would get E,S,or N grades, and 3 - 5
> and eventually - 8 would get letter grades. Now, 3 days before report
> card day, my principal is taking a poll of the other 2 specialists,
> and asking other school principals what THEY're doing, and I'm going
> to end up having to give ESN grades to all levels. What this says to
> me is, "Art is not important enough to warrant a grade".
> Supposedly there is a law that says I have to do all this dumbing
> down. Joe Kid can have a conference with his parent and the special
> ed teacher and they decide that every grade has to be curved for Joe,
> to whatever degree such that, for example, if he makes an 80 I have to
> call it an A. This is not fair to the other kids, much less to Joe,
> who could do the work if somebody would insist that he do it instead
> of playing around all the time.
> I am just about ready to explode. Or maybe implode. I'm sure it'll
> be whichever does the least damage to anyone else, or the least good
> either. :(

I really feel for you. I myself wonder in amazement about our education
system. Why is it such a problem to ask our students to work hard in
order to achieve success? I'm teaching Art Foundations in an urban HS
where the students are totally catered to without doing anything to earn
this reward? I know my school is trying to build many student's self
esteem, since a good number of them have grown up without a stable home
environment. This is good, but I believe self esteem is built around
personal achievement in doing a job or task well, getting a good grade,
etc. By excusing students from learning or making things too easy for
them, schools are actually hurting these kids in the long run. They're
going to have a hell of a time in the real world coping with all life
has to offer. It really is disheartening working in this environment.
Sometimes I think I'd rather not teach than to become a part of a system
that doesn't promote constructive learning, or simply that I don't
believe in. Do you think most schools are like this?