Friday . . .

4

May 13, 2011 by k. liz

I started off this morning very energetic and excited about the day. It’s only lunch time and I’m completely disheartened and discouraged! So, I am blogging. Today has been a whirlwind of trying to get students to listen, stop speaking Turkish, arguing about why I am marking them absent when they came 10 minutes late, and then left to spend 10 minutes in the bathroom . . . I’ve already had several students come up and ask me not to mark them absent in class because they are going to their hometown. I have had students trying to leave class because they are “boring.” I feel my excitement about being a teacher waning and my resolve to pursue excellence in my classroom starting to chip away. But, we have only a few more weeks, and I will persevere and conquer this school year!

This post is not super specific, but I did want to write about something I read this morning. I found this post on insidehighered.com. The gist of the article is that a University is settling the problem of cheating by eliminating the possibility. At first that sounds great, until you realize that this just means that anything is okay. You can work with your neighbor, you can search on the internet, you can do anything you want during an exam. The only rule that will be applied is that you cannot plagiarize. I have very mixed feelings on this, and I’m sure that several other people will too. Please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts. I’m really curious to see what other teachers are thinking about this!

Pros:
In a way, this approach is more practical, and more real life. Especially with the advent of smart phones, almost everyone has access to any information the majority of the time. So, in reality, when I come up to a problem in my classroom, I open my phone, google for ideas, and voila – problem solved! This is the way our world seems to be developing and it makes sense to train students to be prepared to function in the world we have created, not in an older world.
This method also seems to promote more critical and creative thinking. At first, it may seem that it doesn’t, but when all of your exams require the creation of content rather than an answer A, B, C, or D – it will force the students to think and organize their thoughts in coherent ways. I think the students will necessarily be more productive with this method.

Cons:
I do have some reservations with this method. Maybe not so much with the method itself, but I am very hesitant about the reasoning behind this method. I struggle with the thought of – “Oh, we are having a problem with this, so let’s just change the system to fit our problems.” What has happened to discipline and character? Why can we not buckle down and make students grow up and act like adults? (Part of this will probably be venting, because I am facing these very same problems every day in my classroom!)
When I was in high school, my private school realized that some of the girls were dressing too “immodestly” per the school guidelines, so they switched to a uniform, thinking it would solve all of the problems. This is the thing about human nature – if I wore too tight skirts before the dress code, guess what? I can buy too tight khaki skirts also. I can buy too small polo shirts.
We as humans are programmed to be selfish and self-seeking and we are drawn to what is forbidden. Therefore, I balk at the reasoning behind this switch. Switching a method because of cheating, and expecting that to solve the problem, will only leave new obstacles in its wake.

What are your thoughts? I’m still not decided, but very curious. Part of me is resistant and feels that it is giving into pressure to change the rules simply because the students won’t obey them. This is not our calling, our calling is to produce excellent, self-existent students who can perform well in their field. That should drive our decisions, not the discomfort of discipline.

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4 thoughts on “Friday . . .

  1. David Warr says:

    Thanks for informing us about what’s happening. Very interesting! My initial reaction is good idea. If you can’t beat them, join them. (You could probably also argue against exams as well, but I don’t know enough to do that). The better students would still do better, because they’d sift through all the information more quickly and structure it better. Expending energy in the classroom to uphold arbitrary rules seems like a waste of a life to me. You’re facing this in your class now, marking them absent etc. I was in a primary school the other day and saw on the wall 3 circles with names in: Golden time, half golden time, no golden time. Guess whihc circle had 2 names in, and which had about 20! It’s using punishment to control, and deep down, it just doesn’t feel right – too coercive. But then again, I’m not a real teacher, as in I don’t have my own classes – I go into schools demonstrating my resources.

    • kylieliz says:

      Thanks for your comment David! I still don’t know what to think. I personally thrive on rules, and I feel that rules are something that people will encounter all throughout their lives. I also feel that my job as a teacher is to develop my students as people, not just English learners. So, part of me wants to do what I can to teach them responsibility, respect, and a strong work ethic. In my situation, this WILL NOT happen by going on about the benefits of such characteristics . . . hence I feel rules are important. I feel that there are not many places you will go that there are not rules, even if they are unspoken – but at the same time, my students are “adults.” And, once you hit adulthood, the way you must respond to rules changes somewhat. I don’t know – all of my thoughts on this subject are still scattered hence my rambling! Thanks for your input though – it’s really nice to hear opinions from other people involved in education!!

  2. Thank you for a great post.

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