Picture yourself in an ambulance being rushed to the hospital. Maybe you are having a heart attack. You arrive at the hospital and the doctors start to work on you. As the paramedics relay to the doctor your condition, you hear the doctor order an antacid for your treatment…an antacid. As you are taking your last breath, you hear the doctor say, “Whoops!!! I failed…can I get a do over?” The heart monitor begins the steady whine signaling your passing.
During Superbowl 46, the Giants and the Patriots fought seemingly relentlessly for the title of champion. As the final moments played out, it seems that the Giants are going to win. The Patriots miss their last chance at a goal. As the Giants begin the wild celebration, the announcer comes across the PA system and state, “May I have your attention, please! Due to the hard work of the Patriots this year, the NFL judges have determined that they also shall share the victory this year! Please help us in congratulating the co-winners of Superbowl 46!”
I figure you are thinking to yourself that these are ridiculous scenarios. They are. I can’t imagine anyone wanting an ER doctor who is not at the top of his game. I also cannot imagine the chaos and outrage that would occur if the title of champion was diluted for the Giants. People tend to work harder when they know they have a limited chance to get it right.
While I agree that students should have every opportunity to learn concepts, I believe they need a level of achievement to strive for…for excellence. Allowing students to continue to retake exams or redo work just to try to get them a better grade to make the school look better is not helping the student later in life. An ER doc does not usually get a second chance to save a life. I want to know (or at least believe) that the doctor who is making split second decisions about my care excelled in his/her studies. I want to believe that the doctor has the drive to make himself better and not be satisfied with just completing medical school. Yes, my doctor might make a mistake…doctors are human…but that doctor also knows there are consequences for not excelling at their practice.
Likewise these students need to know that they must drive themselves to be better. They need to know that it is OK to fail…as long as they get up and try again. There are also students, though, that do not do the work. The policy from the school system above prevents teachers from issuing a “0” to a student for not completing an assignment. That student receives an “I.” According to this policy, a student that refuses to do assignments gets a minimum score of 60. That tells a student that they can skate through the class and still make a recoverable grade…without doing the work the other students are doing. How is this fair to the students who bust their rear trying to get it done. This policy cheapens the work of those students who do work hard and also sets unrealistic expectations for when the student gets into the work force.
I believe it is a huge mistake for school systems to adopt these types of policies.