Monday, August 18, 2008

Dumb and Dumber

Oh my gosh! (Given the tone of this blog, I resisted the urge to use OMG; that just seems sanctimonious). I'm grumpy, I have a toothache, and I CANNOT BELIEVE what I've read online over the past week. So you get a rant today instead of a charming story.

First, some genius over at the Dallas ISD has proposed a "second chance" policy for students who fall short at school. You can read all about it here: DISD's Second Chance Grade Policy

The gist of it is that students who fail a test will have the chance to retake the test, with no penalty. Students who fart around and don't turn in their homework assignments won't get zeroes for the work. Instead, they get a second chance to turn in their work. If they still don't turn it in, they still don't get a zero, at least not until their parents have been contacted.

Kids who get their stuff in on time don't get extra credit, but now DISD will throw a bone to the ones who totally blow off school, because it's not "fair" to them to be punished because they didn't do what they were told.

WTF? If the whole point of school is to prepare these kids for the "grown up" world, then the school district should be held accountable for NOT doing its job. Teaching these kids that they can just blow off assignments without repercussion sells them all short and sets them up for failure. Getting their parents involved seems like a great idea, but that should have happened in grade school, so doing it now probably won't amount to a hill of beans.

You think my boss will throw me a bone if I blow off a meeting or decide not to turn in a project? Hell no. Oh wait, maybe he'll call my mom first, before he fires me.

These kids are going to learn that in the real world, my boss would just give me another chance to do what I should have done we he asked me the first time.

And those overachieving idiots who actually do the work they are asked to do will just sit back and say nothing when I'm given a second chance to do my work? I think not.

Second, the "I can't believe I just read this" award should go to Ken Smith, the senior lecturer in criminology at Bucks New University in Buckinghamshire, England. He went public in a big way with his ideas this week on He's suggesting that we just do away all together with punishing students for misspelling. Read the full story here:
Making an Arguement for Misspelling (sic).

His argument is that these poor dumb bastards can't spell and will never be able to spell, and an educator who spends time correcting spelling mistakes is taking away from the real teaching he could be doing. What a crock of crap!

Ok, so maybe this blog should have been two postings, not glommed into one. I am just SO pissed off that this is tolerated!!! A school district, for Pete's sake, telling kids it's ok not to do their homework! If they aren't teaching kids to do their work, who is going to? And an educator (I use this term very loosely) saying it's ok not to spell correctly? Again, if a teacher isn't teaching it, who the hell is going to?

These kids can't spell because they are not being held accountable for spelling. They text message, email, and IM their friends all day, and their friends don't care if things are spelled correctly, or in many cases, spelled at all. Their parents are either too busy, too disconnected, or too stupid themselves to teach their kids. And now, the school districts and some educators are outright giving up the fight.

What a shock this group of kids is going to get when they finally hit the workplace!

I feel like a crotchety old middle age person, but I just don't understand why this is ok - with anyone! I'm not really blaming teachers (well, except for the one stupid enough to get on with his theories), because heaven knows most of them try hard to teach what needs to be taught. And please save the flaming emails. If you're a good teacher and you care, you can feel validated that there are LOTS of good ones of you out there, including some I'm related to directly.

I guess I really blame all of us: Parents who allow their children not to learn, because either they don't know themselves or they just don't care. Teachers who tolerate poor study habits and non-participation, then change grades after the fact to move the troublemakers out of their classrooms and into the next. Newscasters who for some godforsaken reason cannot write copy without dangling modifiers. Email writers who tell people to contact "myself" with questions. Bloggers who don't use punctuation, or capital letters, or correct spelling. The Rosie O'Donnells of the world who blog to a huge audience and can't be bothered to write like they've ever had an hour of education in their lives.

We ought to be using the tools we have in this age of instantenous global communication to improve our lives and our writing and our educational levels. Instead, it just looks like we are using the tools to spread the word about what's wrong, not doing something to fix it. And that's a damn shame.

I'm through now, I think. Thanks for reading and have a nice day.

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