Saturday, May 13, 2006

School's out

The semester is finally over. I gave my final exam yesterday and finished all my grading today. I actually agonized over a few grades. I wavered over two students who scored consistently low (really low) on all the exams but put a lot of effort into coming and listening. They hung in there, they tried hard, and they were very nice people. I debated giving them a C or a D. I rationalized the C grade pretty well: I was too hard on them this semester; community college is more like high school than real college; if I'm going to pass this other loser who never showed up, I should pass them too.

In the end, I decided to give them D's, which was already generous. From their exam grades and talking to them, I'm pretty sure neither of them learned a single coherent concept, only jumbled bits of different ones. I can't pass someone that clueless about biology. The clincher was realizing that they wouldn't have passed even in another easier class.

I'm sending them the message that effort sometimes is enough, but more often, you need the results to back up the effort. I hope next time they won't rely on sympathy and flattery but instead take action to come up with better study strategies. And I hate the bad rap that community colleges have, that they're easier and don't really equip students for 4-year colleges. I don't want my kids going to some watered down college (and they are all going to community colleges).

So the semester ends. It's been very educational for me. I've gained new insights into the public school system here from my high school students. I've learned more about people's goals and desires and how people are drawn to different groups. And I've learned that there are rats crawling around in the space above the ceiling.

Coincidentally, with the ending of school and my first trimester, my headaches and fatigue are much reduced. It's gonna be a great summer.

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