Thursday, July 12, 2012

Follow-up post: On firing students…let’s change the question.



Many people reacted strongly to my last post suggesting that teachers shouldbe allowed to fire students. Some people liked the proposal, others didn’t. Will C. commented that the very idea that education should train people to be (in his words) wage slaves, “should be dragged into the backyard and shot.” Bill C., not the same person, I promise, wrote: “Absolutely, if doctors can decide not to treat patients who are too sick and insurance companies can reject people who have pre-existing conditions, then teachers should be able to drop students.” Finally, several people wondered if I was being serious or presenting satire. To the last group, I point to Poe’s Law.

But now for the hard part: I want to change the question. Instead of asking whether teachers should be allowed to fire students, I would like us to consider if teachers can establish minimal standards for remaining in a class.

Imagine the following scenario: a class is closed-out with a long waiting list. In response, the teacher tells the class that if a student doesn’t do every assignment, his or her spot will be given to someone else. Students don’t have to do well, the teacher would explain, but they have to genuinely try their best. If not, they will be replaced.

Is this new proposal an acceptable policy? Does it change your opinion on the original question? How about if we allow everyone one missed assignment in the case of an emergency? (See how quickly standards go by the wayside.) 

What's the difference between the two proposals? And if you find the new one more acceptable than the previous one, tell us why.

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1 comment:

  1. I have a bone to pick with you about a grade.
    In Nineteenth C. Phil. I did not understand Kant (or a few others). I'm still laboring to grok Kant as he is the key to the others, I think.

    You gave me a 'B' I hear; I don't think I looked. If so, I think I deserved a C at best.

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