The subject of educational discourse has seemed to spiral around the “failure” of students. At one time the idea seemed to be a sink or swim mentality – the student either does the work and passes or doesn’t. Now the prevailing ideology seems to have shifted to “failure is not an option”. And students are “held accountable” at all costs and are required to complete all work. This recent thinking has often led to teachers feeling blamed for student failure and that administrators and parents are no longer asking what can the child do better and instead are asking, “what can the teacher do to better accomodate the failing student?”.
Those who are against this current way of thinking claim we are no longer holding students accountable and we are setting them up for failure in the “real world”. Those who support the new philosophy often note that second chances pervade our society (even in the real world), and that students who are not allowed to fail are being held more accountable as they are not allowed to not do the work and just take the F.
I don’t have any answers and find myself fence hopping depending on the day and even the student. We are not doing students any favors by simply assigning the F, yet students ought to learn the importance of intrinsic motivation. I think we need to deal with each student on an individual basis. Some students are very good at “working the system” of both camps. Some students need the support of being forced to do the work before they understand the value of working hard, while other students might need to understand there are consequences for not pulling their own weight.
Of course considering each student individually is more difficult, but I didn’t become a teacher because it was going to be easy.