Amy's Blog Website Address: http://amytwhite.blogspot.com/
Amy's Original Post:
Interestingly, chapter 3 of The Art of Possibility has my favorite ideas and a quote that made me roll my eyes and gag a little. The quote that I didn't like was, "This A is not an expectation to live up to, but a possibility to live into" (pg. 26). I hate quotes like this. I know that they are meant to be inspirational and all that, but, really--gag. That said, I love the idea of giving an A. I don't know if I'd get away with that, but I would love to at least set up the hypothetical and talk to my students about what it would look like. I love the letter writing idea, where they have to look at what they did to receive the A. I think grades have been so inflated in this day and age. I have students (and their parents!) tell me all the time that they "need" to get an A. Some of them are genuinely not capable. They can grow and they can advance, but an A is not really in their league--if we are saying an A is the highest achievement or the highest standard. I am fascinated to see what my students would say is necessary to achieve an A and how they went about earning it. I've been talking to them all year so far about goals and how they define success. I asked them to write their own definition of success and encouraged them to share it with their parents and discuss it. This year we used a graphic by Jim Burke (see below) and talked about the various aspects and foundations of success. I am definitely going to find a way to give them all an A, even if it is only for a day, and see what I hear them say.
Zander, R. & Zander, B. (2000). The art of possibility. New York: Penguin.
Mike's Response to Amy's Blog:
I think that students need to understand what achieving the highest award or standard truly is. It was my experience in teaching rudimentary courses in college that a growing percentage of students expect a grade to be handed to them without earning it. I think this is a reflection of an alarming trend in American schools in which they are acting as "standardized assembly line" where a one size fits all attitude is not meeting all of the student's needs. As more and more students fall "through the cracks", a growing prevalence of "self entitlement" is appearing in more of the student population.
A recent study showed that college students surveyed at the University of California felt that "they deserved a high grade just for showing up to the lecture" (Roosevelt, 2009). There is a growing trend of "student self entitlement", according to a recent study titled "Self-Entitled College Students: Contributions of Personality, Parenting, and Motivational Factors" by Ellen Greenberger (Roosevelt, 2009).
Professor Greenberger said that the sense of entitlement could be related to increased parental pressure, competition among peers and family members and a heightened sense of achievement anxiety (Roosevelt, 2009).
Another article by Ruben Navarrette states that "one of the great long-term threats to the security and prosperity of the United States is a growing sense of entitlement" (Navarrette, 2009). Navarrette feels that the entitlement is passed down "from adult to child and will be detrimental to the nation's global competitiveness and productivity" (Navarrette, 2009). Of course, you can contrast this with current student attitudes. Their rationale is that if "they show up to each class, listen to each lecture and do everything that the teacher requires of them, they should automatically receive a high grade" (Roosevelt, 2009). Students need to understand that even though they're doing all of the work, they need to put out a quality product. It would be the equivalent of going to the hospital for heart surgery and the surgeon not being able to fix your ailment. If the surgeon's response was "well, I did all of the procedures", would you be happy with the results?
Navarrette, R. (2009, March 1). Our entitled youth. Retrieved from http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2009/03/our_entitled_youth.html
Roosevelt, M. (2009, February 17). Student expectations seen as causing grade disputes. New York Times, Education section.