I’ve spent time in several middle years classes. It might have said grade 8 on the classroom door, but inside, it was anything but.
The students were registered in grade 8, but a substantial number, if not the majority, could not operate at that level. They were all over the map at reading and comprehension levels, which meant their teacher could not actually teach grade 8. The teachers were teaching grades 4 to 8, all in the time allotted to what should have been a grade 8 lesson.
For the molly-coddling crowd, this concept is “tailoring the lesson to the student.” To anyone with common sense, it means the student hasn’t learned anything before, and now the whole class is suffering because of it. Those who are actually at the competency of the grade level they are in end up losing the teacher’s focus, because they end up re-teaching grade six, again, each and every class. No one actually gets the benefit of a full-period grade 8 lesson, including the upper crust students – the ones who will end up being leaders in society. The teacher is always teaching to the bottom.
These students are the products, and I would say, victims of the now nearly universal practice of social promotion. That’s where no matter what a teacher says, the school will almost always pass a kid to the next grade level.
One of these teachers I will call “Bob.” I can’t use his real name, because actually speaking of the realities of this concept would be career-limiting for him.
Bob notes that the children are well aware of social promotion, specifically, that no matter what they do, they cannot fail.
“If you are smart enough to know you don’t have to try, then why try?” he points out.
In each class, he says you have those who are not likely going to succeed anyhow, those who will succeed, and the fence sitters. “This really affects the fence sitters,” he says.
They will coast through, thinking that they don’t have to put in an effort until high school, when it actually counts. But by that point, “They realize they don’t have the academic strength.”
It leads to frustration and low self-esteem, with a “Geez, I’m stupid,” realization.
This is really odd, when you consider the entire idea of social promotion is to encourage high self esteem, because you don’t want anyone to be labelled as a “failure.”
Nope, there is no such thing as a failure, on orders from on high, nor is there a truly final mark now. Report cards should be issued in pencil now, because grades can change.
Teachers must take late assignments, even into summer holidays. They can’t dock marks for being late. “If Stan hands in his paper with his name on it, you’re supposed to give him a mark,” he says.
In one case, the school passed one of his students who had shown up for class all of six times that year. Another was a nice enough kids, but he had had several social promotions, and was pretty much useless as a student. “He literally took up air,” Bob says.
So what happens when this student becomes an adult? Can he feed his family, taking up air? Can he contribute to society?
Some of the motivation behind social promotion is that it’s cheaper to pass a kid than have them repeat a grade, because that’s one less year of schooling they have to pay for.
Talk about penny wise, pound foolish.
This article first appeared on the pipeline news website.