Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I'm bugged

... or so I think I am. Well, actually, I KNOW I'm bugged, I'm just trying to figure out if I should be or not. I posted on our family blog, (or at least I think it posts tomorrow) that Jenna has this new found love of reading. Her class has had a contest this past two months to see who could read the most minutes in month. Jenna won the first month hands down, and won this last month by a landslide as well. At parent teacher conference her teacher asked Jenna if it would be alright if she gave her a different prize other than the giant Mr. Potato head that was the prize she already got. Jenna said that would be just fine. And I am totally fine with that as well, however I am totally NOT fine with what she came home with yesterday. And no, I am not referring to the prize she got because honestly Jenna would have been happy with a sticker. I am bugged that she came home with a 2nd place certificate. Because clearly, she was not in second place. She read the most minutes, and now her certificate states otherwise.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't care about the recognition or whatever, but I am bugged at what it represents. It is as if her accomplishment has been down graded. I am sure the teacher was just thinking that perhaps the other kids might become more motivated knowing that they could have a chance to win the prize the following month. However, don't you think she could have said something like, "This month's winner was Jenna Gardner, however since she's already gotten the big prize, this month it is going to go to so and so." Don't you think the kids would have been motivated that they too could win the prize still.

It just leads me into the entire problem with schools. Why do we have to downplay what others do just so that we don't hurt people's feelings? Why can't kids just be inspired by greatness? Why have we downplayed grades? Our old school had gone to a 1,2,3 grading system. 1 means they don't really know the concept, 2 means they know it and 3 means they've mastered it. The kids new school actually does letter grades, so when my child comes home with anything but an A, I know there is room for improvement. And no I don't require my children to have all A's, I understand that some struggle, however, I also feel that when they don't get an A, I know better where I can help them.

I know that Utah is the lowest when it comes to how much we spend on Education per student, and somehow that needs to be addressed. However, why are we making matters worse by dumbing down the standards? It is so irritating. When I taught HS, the first year I had a normal grading system: 90% and above an A, 80% - 89% a B, and so on. However, the second year, as a department we decided to raise the standards, 92% and above was an A, 84% - 91% was a B, and so on. And you know what? Statistically, the number of students getting an A or a B or a C was essentially the same. Kids knew what they wanted, they knew what they needed to do it, and they acted accordingly. So why aren't we giving our kids higher standards? Why are we doping it down for them?

Argh! I feel my blood beginning to boil, so figure I should stop. However, my main delema now, is what do I do with the stupid certificate? I usually keep those things and scrapbook them, but I just don't think I can actually scrapbook this one. I'm just sayin'.

{So really, I am interested in knowing what you think on this one. Am I wrong for being bugged? How would you handle it?}


Michelle said...

The problem I have with your teacher is she changed the rules mid game and that bugs me. If the games wasn't turning out how the teacher had hoped, start a different game/reward system, but don't change the rules when the game is already in play. What is that teaching the children?

Cynthia Hatch said...

I would actually talk to the teacher and express your concern. That when she spoke with you about a different reward you didn't think that ment Jenna wouldn't be recognized for her hard work. Ask her what the next month is going to be like. Tell her your idea about anouncing she won but still being able to give the big prize to someone else. But she should have been given the first place ribbon. She should have been recognized for her hard work. If the teacher is worried about motivating kids she dropped the ball on motivating your daughter. You can usually express your feeling with out attacking the teacher verbally or putting her down. Then they usually listen. I would for sure do this if the same system is set up for next month!

Dean and Cindy Hatch said...

I agree with Michelle and Cynthia; however, maybe you should explain to Jenna you know she is the winner and have the "life isn't fair" talk - that Jenna needs to be motivated because it is the right thing to do and not just for the reward. It's never too early to start learning that hard lesson. Mom just sayin'

Lhone said...

amen to it all. you should be bugged because she has just initiated YOU doing more work to mitigate all that she is NOT doing. Looks like the teacher did not think this through. some kids love reading, some don't. So, do a chart with stickers for so many mins. then, they can all see their accomplishments, but still have a prize. Then, if they see Jenna is out ahead they know to start doing better.