Archive for June, 2007



June 14, 2007

Why children no longer flunk in school


(full article here)

The realization crept up on Edmonton school administrators and shocked them to the core: One in five children was failing Grade 1.

It was the early 1980s and officials learned of the high retention rate by chance through a testing program that found that about 20 per cent of pupils, many of them boys whose birthdays fell just before the enrolment cutoff, were in their second year of Grade 1.

“That was simply unacceptable,” said Anne Mulgrew, supervisor of student assessment for Edmonton public schools.

The recognition, coupled with a burgeoning body of research concluding that repeating grades is harmful and doesn’t help children catch up, led the board to largely stop failing children in elementary and junior high schools.

You simply must read the entire article, if only to prove to yourself that platitudes and empty catch phrases get you pretty far int he edumacashun industry.

Some money quotes:

“Failing students really sends some very damning and negative messages, which impacts on their entire lives,” said Lori Tighe, director of assessment and instructional support services at the Winnipeg School Division.

Actually, there’s nothing quite so destructive to a student’s sense of self than to be given something which the don’t deserve, or for which they have not worked. The research, so far as I’ve seen, is pretty inconclusive, with arguments on both sides of the debate.

When faced contradictory data (opinions) concerningany complicated issue, I prefer to rely on common sense. Not the goof ole boys, common folk kind of common sense. But common sense borne of experience and first hand knowledge.

That kind of common sense tells me that kids’ self esteem is boosted by genuine achievement. Bullshit, feel-good, touchy feely policies like social promotion does very little to boost that sense of self worth, or build an inner locus of control.

Now I do grant that there may be unique, specialized, and rare cases that social promotion might be appropriate. And I might start being a hard-ass about it in middle school (junior high, or grade 7 hereabouts). But in general, you need to hit them where it hurts. And that means if you phuck around and ruin your and others’ time in class, you do it all over.

And this time with moxy.


Laying low

June 4, 2007

I’ve been having to lay low for a while while I divest myself of an awful placement.  You might recall that I applied for transfer to a senior high school.  They (the evil school board, whose staffing department is run by an incompetent ex-principal I used to have.  And who remembers me.  I shouldda kept me mouth shut) balked.  I pushed.

I pushed a bit more, and it was suggested that I keep the volume down a bit.  WHich I’ve been doing.

The Toronto school shooting should have proven blogworthy, and I may just yet.  Until then, just six more teaching days until summer.

And no, I don’t get paid summers off.  Although I am lucky, I know plenty of teachers who take summer jobs to connect the ends.