Should Teachers be Allowed To Fail

Discussion in 'Education and Academia' started by ottawasportsfan, Apr 30, 2009.

  1. ottawasportsfan

    ottawasportsfan Member

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    There is a debate going on in canada.Should teachers be allowed to fail students.


  2. Dr. Foosball™

    Dr. Foosball™ New Member

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    I am not sure if I get you question. Do you mean, "Should teachers pass students who don't put forth any effort"?

    I have students this semester who do not put forth any effort at all. They deserve to fail and it has nothing to do with the teachers.
  3. the shelts

    the shelts Member

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    Ottawa - Don't follow our lead or ask this looney-bin of lower education for advice on teaching.

    Canada might not have all the answers, but has education a lot more figured out than we do. Your students have been consistently outscoring ours.

    Here is a look at reading literacy for instance. Taken from here USA vs the World in education..........World wins
    Keep failing underperforming students up there, you are on the right track.

    Also congratulations for firing Denis Rancourt too at the other end of the debate. To those who don't follow the ups (and many) downs of education he was a tenured prof who the University of Ottawa fired after he decided to give all his students A+ in a class
    See this link

    Au Revoir Denis.
  4. Transparent_Human

    Transparent_Human Member

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    Yes because the problems of children not wanting to learn, not being able to learn, not being supported at home by parent(s) who want them to learn, is all the teacher's fault and not a sign of a significant societal problem.


  5. the shelts

    the shelts Member

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    Oh. So its the parents fault, then societies fault. Not the teachers? Interesting.

    I think you have a valid point that it is a societal problem, but the I think the militant teachers union who are there to serve the (teacher) employee instead of the (student) client also will play a part.

    Hey all I'm saying to this guy is don't follow our lead. Societal problem, teacher problem, parental problem, whatever. Just don't follow our lead.

    ('our' as in 'USA')
  6. Dr. Foosball™

    Dr. Foosball™ New Member

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    Why do you even post on this board?
  7. minorthreat

    minorthreat Member

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    He's proof that the board needs a moderator.
  8. minorthreat

    minorthreat Member

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    Students are not clients, period. Calling them clients implies that they're actually paying for the services that they're getting, and they aren't - they're receiving a free public education.

    In fact, it's precisely that attitude that prevents teachers from failing students a lot of the time and is the #1 cause of grade inflation.
  9. the shelts

    the shelts Member

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    To answer the Canadian guys question, should teachers be allowed to fail.

    Lets jump back on topic here, we'll both have to agree to disagree on the students as clients theory. The students are clients, the teachers are providing a service to the clients and society at large by educating the clients.

    So anyways, back on track. Do you fail anyone minorthreat? I hope so.
  10. Dr. Foosball™

    Dr. Foosball™ New Member

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    Students may be clients, but they are not willing clients. They are captive clients.

    I know a local school that will not allow the teachers to give students a 0% on any assignment. This is nuts. The the teachers have began to award 1% for showing up to school to get around this silly rule. If students can't fail it diminishes the value of a diploma.
  11. minorthreat

    minorthreat Member

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    I don't teach at the moment, but when I did, one of the schools I worked at literally did not allow us to fail students - again, because of the 'students are clients' theory. It was a private school, and the reasoning from the administration was that the students are paying customers, and failing them means that we run the risk of losing said customer. Needless to say, none of the teachers were particularly happy about this.
  12. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

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    The idea that students are customers is the stupidest idea to ever hit education. I can't think of anything that can do more damage to the idea of education than that.

    And in 20 years of teaching, I have never failed a single student.

    Quite a few students have failed my classes, however. Their lack of effort or lack of preparation or lack of intelligence resulted in their failing. I didn't have much to do with it.
  13. minorthreat

    minorthreat Member

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    Right, to rephrase, the administration didn't allow me to give failing grades. I didn't let myself fail students.
  14. Demosthenes

    Demosthenes Member+

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    My first year teaching, the principal told us "Students don't fail; teachers fail students." This was intended to encourage us in preparation for the citywide standardized tests, but of course it had the opposite effect. Given all the factors over which teachers have little or no control, it was quite frustrating to be told that student failure was specifically and uniquely our fault. Of course, we were talking about passing and failing the tests, and failing to meet proficiency standards -- not getting a failing grade per se.

    I feel that this attitude is one that has begun to pervade education policy, educator training, and pedagogy. I admit that it's a double-edged sword, at best. Studies show that successful teachers at low-income, urban schools basically do have this attitude. They believe that they are responsible for their students' failures, and do not blame the students themselves nor their troubled circumstances. Personally, I base my teaching practice on essentially the same premise. If the students aren't learning, I reflect upon what I'm doing and modify it. My goal is always to make sure that all students learn, regardless of whether they want to or not.

    Now, to be fair, I teach middle school. I don't expect children that young to take a great deal of responsibility for their own learning, and I don't expect them to be internally motivated. I make every effort to instill those habits and dispositions in them, and at the same time I try to compensate for their absence. But again, my students are young and very disadvantaged. It's easy to say that their poor work ethic and motivation are not their fault, and that I have a responsibility to advance them in the interest of social justice.

    All that said, there are still students who fail. Once I have exhausted every resource available to me, some students still don't complete their work and/or don't learn what they need to know. Some don't even show up to class. The bottom line is that there is only so much I can control.
  15. the shelts

    the shelts Member

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    Agreed 100 percent.

    That principals attitude is one of the biggest problems in education today.

    This so far is the strongest argument I have heard against the 'clients' theory. It doesn't quite jibe with me in regards public schools but it is a great point.

    Its not the 'stupidest' idea Dr. It is a sense that the taxpayer wants teachers to educate young minds. You are charged with taking a 6 year old kid and in 12 years get him/her to a entry level university education. We are paying you to do this. The taxpayer is the funder, the teacher is the provider and the student is the client.

    Now, I hope you are right about never failing a student but a student failed themselves. I hope, I have to take your word for it, but I hope you are right. If the American teacher would ever be allowed to get real and educate students in the 'real world' (ie no mollycoddling, teach them how the real world works) this would be a great theory.


    I want to believe that minorthreat and so far I do. But the problem is talk to any teacher and they can tell about another teacher who is a bad teacher. Now I think you are very articulate and able to convey an idea which is a talent. But if all teachers have this attitude it becomes a very powerful excuse. Just to be perfectly clear.

    This isn't a statement against you or Dr Wankler (I'm sure many a potty mouthed kid had another name) but just a statement against teachers en masse.
  16. Demosthenes

    Demosthenes Member+

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    Can I ask that everyone please ignore this troll? We can all see that he is painfully ignorant, and doesn't even know what point he's trying to make -- much less does he have the ability to support his ideas using evidence or logic. On the other hand, he's persistent. He will ruin this forum if allowed to do so. Don't feed him!
  17. the shelts

    the shelts Member

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    You must be a great teacher. Some kid in class makes a point you disagree with and you ignore him/her the rest of the year.
  18. roadkit

    roadkit It's Amazing What You Can See From Up Here

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    Of course they should.

    Failure is a part of life. Students/children need to learn this lesson as early as possible as well as the repercussions of failure - and also how to develop the character needed to overcome adversity in life.
  19. bojendyk

    bojendyk New Member

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    Shelts, did your English teachers fail you? Because perhaps they should have.

    This forum should require that all criticisms of the American educational system be written in proper, grammatically correct English.
  20. royalstilton

    royalstilton New Member

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    I wonder what the policy of a no-fail school would be if a student cheats. I've taught at a school that had the policy of lowering the letter grade by one level if a student was caught cheating. I caught two students cheating on tests and one went from B to C and the other from C to D. But if a student cheated more than once, I suppose he might end up with an "F".

    Or is cheating simply a discipline issue? Do we suspend a child for cheating?

    Today ( as a substitute ) I noticed a boy copying the answer from another student's classwork. Is that the sort of cheating that would require dropping the semester grade one mark?

    I agree on principle that teachers do not fail students. Students -- by and large -- fail themselves. And not allowing that phenomenon to be "part of their permanent record" is the result of frivolous thinking, which probably stems from some misguided self-esteem notions.
  21. minorthreat

    minorthreat Member

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    The letter grade for the semester or for the test? I wasn't allowed to give failing semester grades, but I could - and did - give failing test grades, and cheating was punished with an automatic 0 for that particular test.
  22. Demosthenes

    Demosthenes Member+

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    Let's be clear. This isn't about students' self-esteem. It's a question of effective instruction.

    Presumably our goal as educators is to ensure that as many students learn as possible. Ideally, we want all students to learn. If a student fails it means he didn't learn -- whether he failed because he didn't completed the assigned work, or because he cheated, or because he is stupid, or because he didn't try hard enough, or for any other reason. So if a student fails, the school and its staff (and let's be fair, in all likelihood the parents) have not done their job; the student hasn't learned.

    This is the principle behind "no fail" policies. Our friend ottawasportsfan didn't provide much detail about what's going on in Canada, but I've witnessed enough of this in the U.S. education system to come to that conclusion. The idea is that if a child hasn't learned, the educators must do whatever they can to ensure that the child does learn, because the ultimate end goal is to move the student forward. This means that if a child doesn't do his work, we make him do his work. If the work is not satisfactory, we allow him to re-do it until it meets standards. If he doesn't grasp concepts or hasn't learned material, we re-teach it until he does and has. The focus isn't on rewarding motivated/bright children and punishing lazy/stupid ones; the emphasis is on making sure that every student meets the performance standards.

    The other day I heard about a charter school here in New York City which has enacted sort of a compromise. If a child fails a test or assignment, he has 3 chances to re-take the test or re-do his work. With each subsequent effort, the cap on his potential grade is lower. For example, even the best work can only receive a maximum grade of 80% on the third try. To me this sounds ideal.

    The bottom line is, do you want to teach children how to be good students, or do you want to teach them Math, English, History, and Science? Failing them doesn't really teach them either one.

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