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Giving Zeros: Power Trip or Fair Play?
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Power Trip or Fair Play?
Power Trip
5%
 5%  [ 1 ]
Fair Play
94%
 94%  [ 18 ]
Total Votes : 19

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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9493
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 5:05 pm    Post subject: Giving Zeros: Power Trip or Fair Play? Reply with quote

This was a small part of another discussion on a different thread, but is probably worth a discussion on its own. Another trend in education....what do you think?

Quote:
June 10, 2012
Teacher Suspended For Giving Zeros: Is He A Hero?
A high school physics teacher in Edmonton recently got suspended for handing out zeros. It was in defiance of school and board policy and it is likely that he will lose his job.

Giving zeros for missed assignments and exams was a policy of Lyndon Dorval's throughout his 35-year teaching career. He knew when he pulled out the red marking pen and jotted down the big goose egg that he would probably be suspended, he had been warned by the Principal.


But he says in an article in the National Post that he felt that he had to do it, that the zeros can be changed if the student make an effort:

“It put the onus on them. I could see some other method working with younger kids. But these are high school students. They are becoming adults. They are getting ready to step out into the real world and it is time for them to start taking responsibility for their own actions.”

Needless to say, that support for the teacher has been overwhelming. The Edmonton Journal ran a poll to which 97% of respondents (over 12,000 people) said students should receive zeros. Even some students have rallied to support the deposed teacher.

It's true that students, especially high school students, need to learn about consequences. And not turning in the work or not showing up for the exam should not be a way to squeak through high school.

But something about this zero debate bothers me. I think that it is the fundamental job of schools/teachers and parents to educate their kids. And that means keeping them in school.

Punishing them (and that is what a zero is, punishment) seems like the antithesis to keeping at-risk kids in school. If you already felt like you were circling the drain in physics, wouldn't a zero just be the push you needed to leave?

Joe Bower, and outspoken teacher and advocate for alternative methods of assessment wrote a column in the Edmonton Journal entitled "Giving Zeros Is A Power Trip " in which he says:

The more you use power to control someone, the less real influence you will have on their lives. As a parent and an educator, reducing my influence with my children and students is unacceptable...It takes courage not to punish students with zeros, and it takes real effort to see problems as an opportunity to teach and to learn.

He believes that education is a conversation between student and teacher -- one in which there is respect on both sides. He admits that the students who need you the most are absolutely the hardest ones to teach.

These are two starkly opposed visions of teaching. I don't doubt that they both care education and their students and want them to succeed in "real life".

But Cheryl-Lynne Oloth says on Bower's blog: school isn't real life. A teacher's job is to prepare kids to be good citizens and good learners -- hopefully a job is an extension of that. Her post is long, but if you are interested in moving beyond the idea that Dorval is a hero, it is worth a read.

All that said, I know that the teachers that were the toughest were the ones that I respected and worked hard for. They were the ones who forced me to move beyond my comfort zone and actually apply myself. But that was because we had a relationship where the expectations were clear.

I could use a good English teacher right now, to help me come up with a conclusion because I'm sort of waffling in the middle. But here goes: a good teacher cares about the outcomes of the students, they don't grade students based on some kind of power trip or take the easy way out. But teachers need as many tools possible to help students to learn, and if zeros (that can be changed) are part of their toolkit -- as a last case scenario -- then I suppose that seems reasonable.

Do you think the physics teacher should have been fired? Do you think zeros are a good teaching tool?


http://www.embracethechaos.ca/2012/06/is-the-teacher-suspended-for-giving-zeros-a-hero.html
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9557
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fair play - beyond question. And those that deny this basic classroom fact will be presented with a one-way ticket to Siberia. (...so as to see the difference between good classroom-keeping and real power-tripping...)
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12728
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear spiral78,

Should he have been fired? My opinion: No.

Are zeroes a good teaching tool?

Not sure about "good", but I think they may sometimes be necessary.

Regarding my homework. I always tell my students (adult ESL) that if they do the homework and get all the answers right, they get 100%. If all the answers are wrong, they get 100%. But if they don't so the homework (or copy it), they get 0 %. Hey, they give me nothing; I give them nothing. Very Happy.

I WANT the mistakes, so I can tell what they need.

Regards,
John

P.S. In all my time teaching adult ESL in the States (since 2003), I think I may have given two or three zeroes. And even those were later discounted when the students asked if they could do any "make-up" work.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9557
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 5:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And all this talk of a relationship of equals.... pah!
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12728
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Sasha,

A quote I'm sure you'll appreciate:

"All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others." Very Happy

Regards,
John
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9493
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
But something about this zero debate bothers me. I think that it is the fundamental job of schools/teachers and parents to educate their kids. And that means keeping them in school.

Punishing them (and that is what a zero is, punishment) seems like the antithesis to keeping at-risk kids in school. If you already felt like you were circling the drain in physics, wouldn't a zero just be the push you needed to leave?

Joe Bower, and outspoken teacher and advocate for alternative methods of assessment wrote a column in the Edmonton Journal entitled "Giving Zeros Is A Power Trip " in which he says:

The more you use power to control someone, the less real influence you will have on their lives. As a parent and an educator, reducing my influence with my children and students is unacceptable...It takes courage not to punish students with zeros, and it takes real effort to see problems as an opportunity to teach and to learn.


This is the bit of the debate that bugs me. Putting the onus for learning completely or mostly on a teacher doesn't value the fact that we can't open up their heads and put the knowledge or skills inside - students must be involved actively in the process themselves.

And, come on - a teenager who is on the verge of dropping out can be pushed over the edge by ANYTHING; teachers simply can't be worried that everything we do might be the final straw that breaks the camel's back of a kids' interest in school.
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wangdaning



Joined: 22 Jan 2008
Posts: 2157

PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 11:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How can a student get any credit for something they didn't do?

Fair play.
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Shonai Ben



Joined: 15 Feb 2003
Posts: 585
Location: on the floor

PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

fair play definitely........in fact when I was teaching in public school in Canada I never thought twice about handing back a paper with a zero on it.....had it happen to me when I was a student and I knew I deserved it.....
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7969



Joined: 26 Mar 2003
Posts: 5681
Location: South China, by the sea.

PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 3:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If students miss exams and forget to hand in work then the 0 is well deserved and should be an option for the teacher.

The discussion about firing this teacher for handing out 0's reminds me of that aborted attempt to take failure out of the British education system a few years back.

Teachers say no-one should 'fail'

Quote:
Liz Beattie, a retired teacher, will call on the association's annual gathering in Buxton, Derbyshire, to "delete the word 'fail' from the educational vocabulary to be replaced with the concept of 'deferred success'".

Good thing she's retired already. Dumb old bat.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9557
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

johnslat wrote:


Are zeroes a good teaching tool?



Dear Johnslat

They are probably not. But they are an excellent assessment tool. Far more accurate than the wishy-washy mumbo-jumbo of 'nuturing the child'. Fail the little blighters when they have failed. Anything else is lying to them.

Hic!

Sasha
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9557
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 12:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

P.S.

Imagine if one of these guys put his foot wrong or dropped his rifle. Do you think he'd get a 'deferred success'? I'd rather imagine he'd get a big fat 'zero'. Tattooed on his face, before being shipped east.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdeClXZRE1M&feature=related

Discipline. It's the key. All Soviet academies and academicians know this.

Hic!
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dean_a_jones



Joined: 03 Jul 2009
Posts: 1140
Location: Wuhan, China

PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am clearly in the majority (at least currently, as the poll is at 100% 'fair play') that a score of zero is, at times, a necessity. I don't see how you could get rid of them entirely for non-completed work, although I can see that a resit option (with a reduced score) is often a fair compromise.

I can understand the arguments about motivation and students, especially when a few low scores drags your overall average down and you feel like you might as well not bother anymore. But they also have the opposite effect and motivate you to work hard.

I had a quick one-over of the articles and it is still not totally clear to me what the 'no zero policy' means. There was talk of grading what a student does, but surely getting a 100% on one homework assignment then skipping everything else doesn't make sense. And what happens if a student does nothing?

Whatever the case it seems like as a policy it is ultimately coddling the students, suggesting that failure is not really an option. In life it certainly is, and that is a lesson best worth learning when it is easier to bounce back.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
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Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2012 12:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is gratifying to see that not one, not even one little TEFLer has sullied his name by voting the other way. Well done, comrades! Now, let's break out the zeroes for the slackers in the classroom!
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Qaaolchoura



Joined: 10 Oct 2008
Posts: 539
Location: 21 miles from the Syrian border

PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2012 10:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sashadroogie wrote:
It is gratifying to see that not one, not even one little TEFLer has sullied his name by voting the other way. Well done, comrades! Now, let's break out the zeroes for the slackers in the classroom!

Dammit! Now I wish I'd voted for "power trip," just to mess with you Sasha. ;•|

~Q
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choudoufu



Joined: 25 May 2010
Posts: 3325
Location: Mao-berry, PRC

PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2012 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

there....satisfied? it's a power trip. or a feel-good trip.
feels good for a short time, but then you realize it doesn't matter.

the student that skipped ALL your classes......well, almost all.
he came to one but listened to music on his ipodthingie......and he
came to sit for the exam, and did exactly that. nothing more.
didn't even write his name on the paper. sure, he got a zero.

but turns out his daddy paid a certain someone on the staff one
year's tuition to give his demon seed a diploma.
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