One of New Zealand’s top high schools has introduced a tough new scheme in which junior students will be held back a year if they don’t do their homework, have the right attitude, turn up to school on time or bring the right equipment to class. It means even the brightest children could fail a year despite getting high marks in every subject.
If this scheme had been in place when I was in High School … I would still be in High School.
The right “attitude”? The right “work ethic”? These are, of course, not _bad things_ but I don’t think they’re something you can impress upon a child be threatening to hold them back a year. It reminds me of P.J O’Rourke postulating on what whould happen if you made armed forces drill instructors into therapists… “I WANT THAT OEDIPAL COMPLEX RESOLVED BY 1300 HOURS MISTER OR YOU WILL RUN LAPS FOR THE REST OF THE DAY!”
Hell, I haven’t been at High School for nigh on 18 years or so, and I am STILL developing a work ethic that doesn’t involve the phrase “Where possible, do it tomorrow.”
The worst part of it is that the whole thing stinks of subjectivity. It seems to suggest that teachers could hold back students to punish them for things which are simply unmeasurable, and therefore uncontestable.
You need to be able to write to the school and say “95% of the people who worked with myself and Bob Smith would say that we had similar attitudes to work, and yet you gave him a rating of “awesome” and me a rating of “devil child”. Explain!” or even “In addition, 95% of the people who worked with us both said that you frequently mentioned that Bob has “full round lips” and the “taut musculature of a swimmer” whereas I resemble a cornish pastry in appearance, texture, and affinity for sports. Explain. In Detail.”
If the teacher can just come back and say “There’s no actual metrics, it’s just my opinion.” then that’s fucked. Fucked. I’ve had teachers who have actively disliked me and gone out of their way to make my life a misery, and I’ve had teachers who’ve covered for me when I’ve bunked off for a week or so. You CAN’T have a subjective thing like this which _overrides_ the objective scholastic tests. I would pull my kids out of any school that used this system.