Saturday, May 26, 2012

One More Reason to Hate School

I was looking through M. Peevie's online grade-book, and noticed a big fat zero for her latest assignment in reading, a short story. I knew she had worked hard on this story, as she always does on her homework assignments. I knew that she wrote a messy first draft and had copied it over neatly on another sheet of paper.

"M. Peevie," I said, "Why do you have a big fat zero on your short story assignment?"

M. Peevie's normally cheerful countenance clouded over. "When Ms. Swamps asked me for it, I didn't have it at my desk. I said, can I please go to my locker to get it, and she said I had to give it to her right that second or I would get a zero."

"You are freaking kidding me," I said.

"No, Mommy," M. Peevie said, worry lines creasing her forehead and tears filling her eyes. "I had one more sentence to copy over from my rough draft, and she wouldn't let me go get it. I wanted to turn it in, but she wouldn't let me!"

Grrr. I would like to know what philosophy of education, what principle of child development, this punitive stance is based upon. I'm guessing it comes from a German authoritarian and Lutheran dogmatic perspective that elevates discipline, responsibility, and obedience above all other developmental goals.

Don't get me wrong: I want my children to learn discipline and responsibility. But this hyper-punitive approach completely negated the effort, compliance, and creativity that M. Peevie had brought to the assignment to that point. Couldn't Ms. Swamps mark M. Peevie's paper down a grade or two for being late, instead of giving her a zero?

Mr. Peevie has addressed this very question to the teacher, and we await a response. I will keep you posted. I'm not optimistic.


Eve Bradshaw said...

Update: Ms. Swamps allowed M. Peevie to turn her paper in late. I regret my lack of confidence in her reasonableness.

Leslie Wolf said...