(Quick recap: Jessica Lahey describes assigning a personal reflection essay to her 8th grade English class. She gave one previously straight-A student a 0 on his first draft because she felt it wasn't revealing enough.)
Feb 7, 2012 08:12 AM
There's a basic contradiction here. You're telling the kids, "Dig deep! Express yourself! Find out who you really are!" ... and then you hand out a 0 if the kid doesn't express himself the way YOU wanted him to.
It's still all about pleasing you; the kids just have to pretend that it's all about finding themselves. It's a head game.
It reminds me of the many homework assignments we've received, that, after a long list of rules and requirements, say at the end: "Have fun! Be creative!" That's not how life works. The kids can't have fun and be creative while simultaneously carrying out all of the teacher's commands to the teacher's satisfaction.
Feb 7, 2012 08:26 AM
He had a zero for about 24 hours, and he understood it to be a temporary "try again." I suppose there's a certain amount of "you had to be there" to understand the entire situation and experience of my students. I understand that you are very angry and frustrated with schools and teachers that do not take the feelings of students into account, and I absolutely agree. However, it is my JOB to challenge students to dig deeper, look further, ask more of themselves when they need to. Teachers do need to foster, support, and encourage children in order to help them achieve all they can be, but we must also challenge kids to be their best, and sometimes that can make students uncomfortable.
I am sorry for whatever experience you had with education that got you this upset, but really, I am, and always will be on the side of the kids and their emotional and academic needs. I promise, we - teachers who ask kids to explore outside of their comfort zones - are not the enemy.
Well, if she asked the kids to explore outside their comfort zones by presenting them with challenging intellectual problems, I might be okay with it. But I don't see any reason, or excuse, for pushing adolescents out of their emotional comfort zone, by making them write revealing personal essays. How is that education?