Thursday, September 02, 2010

Behold, the Power of a Red Pen

I have no weapons training. I've completed neither hunters' safety nor gun safety classes, and I've only held a gun a half-dozen times. The closest I've come to using weaponry is fishing. So how was I given the right to wield a blood-red pen? Slashing my way through an incorrect answer never feels right. There is a fine line between mercy and unhealthy coddling, and I'm having a difficult time defining that line.

I've heard rumors – all too true, I'm afraid – that 4 of 18 MAA students passed the junior math class last year. 22% passed. Not 22% with an A or B, but 4 who had anything above an F. Unacceptable! I thought.

I've spent the last two days grading lab safety questionnaires; not a difficult assignment by any means. I've seen more misspellings of "goggles" than I'd ever imagined: gugoles, gogles, and googles ("googles" shows up more frequently than "goggles"!). And now a quiz grading dilemma has arisen: a practical lab quiz waiting for an adjustment to the points possible since time ran out, but raw scores ranging from 42% to 100%. I also found three students with the study sheet for the quiz in their hand as we were taking the practical exam. I simply took the sheets away when I could have (and perhaps should have) given them a zero on the assignment. Where does mercy overstep its bounds?

I must continually remind myself that thorough knowledge is more important than a high GPA. I can't force students to learn that which they do not want to know. I can only show them what I know with as much excitement as I can muster. Show them what I know and pray.


katherinejustine said...

I was shocked as well when I taught last year. So many failing grades. I couldn't believe how many didn't really care or know how to study. I think you will see gradual improvement throughout the year. I did anyway. Those improvements are sweet morsels to behold and are very exciting too. Be sure to let the students know your joy when they succeed. You're doing an awesome job I just love reading about your experiences. :)

Miss Jehle said...

I had a native English speaking college student write "nolege" on a quiz this week. Translation = knowledge. Talk about the need for it. Mercy!

Jessica said...

Amanda: "cobberd". AKA cupboard. Oh boy.