Is Our Children Learning?

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My littlest Okie sister had a question. Since we have some teachers here I figured I would seek their opinions. Anybody can join in:

I need your opinion on something. This year, we have a teacher who marks off 10 percentage points every time you forget to write your name on your paper. I really struggle with this, you don’t get any credit when you remember to write your name and now my kiddo has a grade reflective of his inability to write his name rather than his mastery of the subject matter. What are your thoughts?


This was my response:

I suspect that the idea is to get the students’ attention rather than to punish them. A few lower grades over the course of a school year should not be that big a deal. If it is such a continual problem that it affects the student’s semester grade that is indicative that the kid has problems following instructions and paying attention to detail. We don’t do our children any favors by making things too easy for them.

Here is what My Darling Daughter said:

Being punctual, following directions, and attention to detail are all very important life skills. I do not think it is fair to base one’s grade on these things when a parent wants to know a child’s proficiency in a certain subject. However, we do trust teachers to educate (at least as a partner) and there has to be a level of trust between us- that they’re doing what is best. My advice for a stubborn or forgetful child would be to seek extra credit. It would make sense that they offer something comparable in points. I hate to use the word punishment but for lack of a better term, if you fall behind in one aspect-what can you do to make it up?


The nephew in question is 10 years old. At last count there were 41 other opinions, with no real consensus.

What do y’all think?


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About Myiq2xu™

Being an asshole is all part of my manly essence.
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50 Responses to Is Our Children Learning?

  1. The Klown says:

    One of the things I have learned in my half-century on this planet is that what seems obvious to one person isn’t obvious to others. Especially when it comes to raising kids.

  2. smile says:

    I am a former california teacher who decided the profession was not for me. I disagree with what this teacher is doing, as it is counter-productive. The main goal here is to test the student’s grasp of subject knowledge, and a minor goal is to get the student to remember to write one’s name on the paper. The teacher is using fear as a means of correcting behavior. I think that a more effective way to change behavior is through reason, and by showing them how to analyze the problem and self-correct. Also effective is to show how adults cope with similar problems. If students are having difficulty remembering to write their names on their papers, there are productive ways to do this. One strategy would be to discuss in class how adults cope with similar difficulties of forgetfulness, by making checklists, and then helping students create their own checklists. Another discussion would be that in some occupations memory is not considered reliable, because forgetting something would endanger life, and therefore, professions such as pilots, astronauts, operators and technicians in the military, etc., rely on lists to ensure simple but important tasks are performed in an orderly sequence for the success of the mission. Another class discussion would be spent on the story, “For want of a nail”, a story that I grew up on, and learned much from. I am a big proponent of positive reinforcements.

    • smile says:

      And finally, my class would create a paper-writing checklist that would be placed on the board, and all students would go through the checklist first before turning in their papers.

      • elliesmom says:

        And when did you actually teach “content”?

        • smile says:

          Reading your other comments below, your response to mine makes sense, because you were teaching higher grades. I was a kindergarten teacher. Did you think your students learned to do all the things that they do in higher grades just like that? Don’t you realize that some teacher much earlier than before you got them, had to teach them basic school skills, like writing their name, forming a line, sharing things, not fighting, putting things back where they belong, how to deal with peer competition, how to deal with failture and success, etc., etc.? All these basic school and social skills are very new for 4-5-6 year olds coming to school for the first time, and the K teacher has to discuss these with them, and are part of the K teacher’s content. The different steps I would have used would have taken very few minutes to show them how, but would have been life long lessons for them and would have not only made them successful in school and life, but also made your job that much easier by their learning these things at an early school age. And at this young age, fear and punishment don’t work too well as it will result in them having crying fits or freezing-up fits; instead reason, encouragement, love and compassion are much better motivators for learning and changing behaviours. I suppose I should have mentioned what grade I was talking about, in order to make myself clearer.

          I do like the methods you mentioned below, are very age appropriate, and seemed to have been successful in your classroom.

  3. t says:

    Personally, I think the world is full of negative reinforcement. It’s best that children learn about this early on. The mortgage company doesn’t give us brownie points for making payments but they take our house if we miss one. I see nothing wrong with strictly enforcing something that is critical to class administration.

    The other side of the coin is that the teacher should probably give the student a way to make up the points. Have them visit some historic site, or even observe a spider building a web in the yard and write a paragraph on what they saw. This doesn’t save the teacher any time, but it both reinforces that they need to remember important things and gives them something extra to learn

    • votermom says:

      Not a teacher but I agree that the teacher is trying to teach an important life skill. Banks won’t take an unsigned check. Can’t get your tax refund without your name on it. Etc.

    • DeniseVB says:

      Reminds of the way Obama leads, all negative and nothing inspiring. Yes, we do need more positive reinforcement in this country…..and the world.

      Actions have consequences, so if a child has trouble remembering a simple step, like his name, perhaps keeping 10 points will inspire him to remember, rather than being punished with a deduction. The lesson here will last a lifetime, sorta like getting bills paid by the due date and you save the late fee ! 🙂 The rule applies to everyone in the class right? For a class of 10 yr olds, it’s like “Wow, my name is worth 10 points” 😀

      • Sandress says:

        I’m a big believer in Natural Consequences, and in school if your work can’t be identified as yours you get ZERO points for that assignment. A ten year old should be able to grasp that, and if s/he can’t, they should be getting extra help in a number of areas.

  4. votermom says:

    Although your daughter is right in a way – no extra points for a name so why deduct for no name. The logical consequence of no name should be no grade at all (zero points)

    • elliesmom says:

      Let me start by saying my students were all older than 10. For most of the time I taught, they were juniors and seniors in high school. I never had fewer than 125 students. If you didn’t put your name on your paper. it wasn’t always trivial for me to figure out who the paper belonged to, especially if it was something done outside of class. So this is what I would do. I would grade the paper and pin it to the bulletin board outside my class with a note saying, “Is this yours?’ If you took it off the bulletin board, and handed it to me, I assumed it was yours, no questions asked. That way someone got credit for the work even if it wasn’t the person who did it. Why let all of that work go to waste? At first the kids screamed this wasn’t “fair”. There were kids who regularly checked the board to see if there was work they could claim. It was a lesson in life, though. If you want credit for your work, you have to identify it as yours. And fraud is rampant in society so learn to protect yourself from it.

      With my younger students (13), if you didn’t get a paper passed back to you, you had to come after school to look through my folder of “unclaimed work” if you wanted credit. I had a policy of deducting points for “late work”. Since I couldn’t technically grade it until it was claimed, any unsigned work was “late”. Students never let it happen often enough that their term grades were affected by it. The issue of putting your name on your paper 99% of the time should have been resolved by the end of 3rd grade, and any student older than that who consistently forgets to do it probably has other attention issues as well. Maybe needs a little time spent with the SPED teacher on organizational skills. Taking the time out of class every time a paper is about to be rendered to the teacher to go through a paper writing checklist is excessive. Unless that’s the content you’re trying to teach and not what’s on the paper.

      • elliesmom says:

        I was in moderation for spelling my name wrong. See how it works?
        Let me start by saying my students were all older than 10. For most of the time I taught, they were juniors and seniors in high school. I never had fewer than 125 students. If you didn’t put your name on your paper. it wasn’t always trivial for me to figure out who the paper belonged to, especially if it was something done outside of class. So this is what I would do. I would grade the paper and pin it to the bulletin board outside my class with a note saying, “Is this yours?’ If you took it off the bulletin board, and handed it to me, I assumed it was yours, no questions asked. That way someone got credit for the work even if it wasn’t the person who did it. Why let all of that work go to waste? At first the kids screamed this wasn’t “fair”. There were kids who regularly checked the board to see if there was work they could claim. It was a lesson in life, though. If you want credit for your work, you have to identify it as yours. And fraud is rampant in society so learn to protect yourself from it.

        With my younger students (13), if you didn’t get a paper passed back to you, you had to come after school to look through my folder of “unclaimed work” if you wanted credit. I had a policy of deducting points for “late work”. Since I couldn’t technically grade it until it was claimed, any unsigned work was “late”. Students never let it happen often enough that their term grades were affected by it. The issue of putting your name on your paper 99% of the time should have been resolved by the end of 3rd grade, and any student older than that who consistently forgets to do it probably has other attention issues as well. Maybe needs a little time spent with the SPED teacher on organizational skills. Taking the time out of class every time a paper is about to be rendered to the teacher to go through a paper writing checklist is excessive. Unless that’s the content you’re trying to teach and not what’s on the paper.
        Reply

      • votermom says:

        I like the “let’s see if there’s unclaimed homework I can grab” board. LOL. Those kids probably went into politics.
        😀

  5. driguana says:

    Made my morning….maybe we need a Department of Intelligence….quite a different thing than a Central Intelligence Agency though…
    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/all-in-a-name–jimmy-kimmel-quizzes-americans-on-%E2%80%98obamacare%E2%80%99-vs–%E2%80%9Caffordable-care-act%E2%80%99-214544505.html

  6. votermom says:

  7. votermom says:

    • leslie says:

      Maybe he should simply cut the Asia trip completely. But since I thought of that, it must be too easy.

  8. SHV says:

    “My littlest Okie sister had a question. Since we have some teachers here I figured I would seek their opinions. Anybody can join in:”
    *****
    10 points off for not following a basic instruction is getting off easy; should probably be automatic failure.

  9. Constance says:

    Regarding the kid who doesn’t conform to his teachers request…

    In life it is important to take credit for your work and kids should learn this. It is not asking too much for a 10 year old to put his name or a required heading on his paper. Back in the day we got two grades for any assignment we wrote. One grade for format, grammar, etc, one grade for mastery of the subject and ideas. My usual grade was D for spelling and grammar which I have always blown off and A for ideas. I can vouch for the fact that people judge your intelligence by your ability to conform to grammar, format and spelling conventions and sometimes I wish I had bothered to learn them.

    • The Klown says:

      I learned more from my junior year English teacher than any other English teacher ever.

      Her name was Betty Jean Hunt. She was about 5 ft tall and mean as a snake. She was a grammar Nazi and a spelling fascist. I had her for her final year of teaching before she retired. She had no pity or mercy. She would accept no excuses or extra credit. She gave me a D the first semester and a F the second. I had to take summer school to make it up.

      I hated her.

      My mom went to talk to her about the F grade. She told my mom I was one of the brightest students she ever had but wouldn’t budge on the grade. Then my mom came home and chewed my ass out.

    • votermom says:

      I can vouch for the fact that people judge your intelligence by your ability to conform to grammar, format and spelling conventions and sometimes I wish I had bothered to learn them.

      And also by your penmanship. If you scrawl like a second-grader people assume that’s basically your level of edukershyon.

  10. Rather than taking points off, I’d suggest keeping the kid in for recess every time he “forgets.” Kids will do almost anything not to miss recess. This is assuming he is simply being forgetful. If not, is there something else going on? Is the boy staging a passive protest against this teacher? Sounds like an inexperienced or ill-prepared teacher who can’t get her 10 year old students to follow basic instructions by October. If I were the mother I’d talk openly with him about what may be bugging him about the class and/or the teacher and let him know that she’s on his side. Kids respond well when they know they can trust the adult not to blow up or unfairly blame them. If he “hates” the teacher and is staging a “wont write my name” rebellion then the mother can talk to him about better strategies for succeeding in the classroom whereby he doesnt lose points (or recess) but at the same time doesnt feel like he’s “rolling over” for an authority figure whom he doesn’t respect.

    Or maybe he’s just forgetful.

    Either way, sounds like an interesting kid!

    • elliesmom says:

      Sometimes recess is the only time a teacher gets to use the bathroom. If she keeps the kid in, she doesn’t get to go. Want to make a teacher mad at your kid for not figuring out he needs to write his name on his paper? Tell her to give up peeing. He’s not a “special snowflake”. If this is a temper tantrum, his mom needs to deal with it, not his teacher.

      • Right. Which is why I said his mother needs to figure out what’s going on and deal with it. Withholding recess is a common correction for many teachers. Depends on the district and the resources available in the classroom. No one’s asking a grown woman to wet her pants. My point is there are effective corrections, especially for young students, that don’t involve the report card grade. He may not deserve special treatment that’s different from how his classmates are treated but he does deserve standard and fair treatment.

        He may not be a “special snowflake” to his teachers, fair enough. But he is a special snowflake to his mother. The mom is trying to figure out how to approach the teacher and school about a policy she doesn’t like. She clearly wants her kid to succeed and not by being coddled. She could ask the teacher about her reasoning behind the 10pt penalty. If she’s persuaded that that’s the best way then great. If not, she could work with the teacher to come up with other ways to correct the kids (all of them, not just hers) for not following simple instructions.

        These are 4th graders. They deserve classroom instruction that facilitates success. Not by bending rules or lowering standards, but by teaching them the importance and value of the details as well as the big picture (the style and the substance). I think they’re too young for punitive grading. Thats what middle and high school is for. The elementary years are for getting them to care about learning and to achieve mastery of basic facts and procedures.

        • Sandress says:

          If there’s a classroom policy of 10% off, he is getting treated the same as his peers. Why shouldn’t it involve his report card grade? He’s TEN. The grades at that point mean NOTHING, so there’s no reason not to use them to shape behavior. Take it from someone who does neuropsychological assessments, it doesn’t matter how “smart” you are, if you can’t follow directions, or pay attention, or rein in your impulsivity, or plan, then you cannot function. Kids need to learn that shit WAY more than they need to learn content. Executive functioning is important. If his mother is so concerned about his grades, she can write his name on the papers and then the kid can learn that he doesn’t have to take responsibility for anything.

          I agree with your last paragraph, but I don’t see it as punitive. Kids need to learn to take correction, not just judge their performance by how much or little hand-holding and encouragement they get. You can’t wait until you have adolescents to introduce the idea of negative consequences for crappy work or inattention. Late elementary is not too young to ask someone to take pride in their work and commit to improvement in both skill and behavior.

  11. The Klown says:

    Un-fucking-believeable!

  12. elliesmom says:

    Why am I in moderation? Did I forget to put my name on my paper?

  13. The Klown says:
  14. The Klown says:
    • Constance says:

      Are all of those sign hanging guys essential?

    • Constance says:

      I think the old vets can take those guys. Is there a place to bet on the outcome of the WWII vets vs excessive number of park rangers rumble?

  15. The Klown says:

    AOSHQ:

    [Update] DC Area Morons. There is probably going to be a 10am gathering at the WW II memorial. The Honor Vets arrive at 11. If you have the free time, be sure to get down there.

  16. What a paternalistic shitshow. These are PUBLIC PARKS. Perhaps indoor spaces that house valuable artifacts etc need to be closed while only a skeleton crew is on duty, but WTF? Families, military vets, and grown men and women can’t be trusted to walk up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial? The public safety staff are all on duty.

    Assholes.

  17. gxm17 says:

    If it was Kindergarten or First Grade, then it’s a bit over the top. I don’t think it’s asking too much of a 10-year old to remember to put his name on his paper and I agree with Votermom: No name, no grade. Putting your name on your paper is pretty basic. IMO, your niece should tell your nephew: Dude, this is basic stuff. Get with the program already.

  18. swanspirit says:

    I would always choose positive reinforcement over negative , to teach anything , it is more effective , and has more lasting results . Nurses are always teaching something , and most of the time the teaching was to avoid a negative effect , like teaching a child how to follow a diabetic diet to avoid low or high blood sugars .
    I used to teach a class of asthmatic kids , how to recognize and avoid their triggers, how to avoid ” asthma attacks” , relaxation exercises , etc,. Not all 10 year olds , are at the same developmental level , and certainly some are more sensitive than others . Some stress out over assignments more . I would make a special effort to teach “remembering to put your name on it ” Why teach a child that is just developing the ability to anticipate consequences , to anticipate negative ones, in a structured safe environment?

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