Monday, May 10, 2010

Judgment day

In the book Archer was reading to me tonight, the narrator expressed the opinion that when a kid gets a bad grade, it's like the teachers, parents, school, city and state get bad grades, too. "Why is that?" Archer asked.

"It's because we all responsible for helping you learn," I said. "When a kid fails, we've all failed to help him."

I had plenty of time to think about that idea today as I filled in the blank spots in my gradebook, double-checked my formulae and arithmetic, and submitted final semester grades to the registrar. Not everyone in my classes succeeded. And while the students who didn't succeed bear the responsibility, I know in my gut that in some cases, I bear it, too. I made decisions about how much I would do to ensure the students had a good experience and didn't run into problems. I could have done more, but I decided up front what my boundaries were.

And now when I see the dividing line appear between those who pushed their way through the difficulties I left intact, and those who didn't -- or couldn't -- I feel that responsibility. Yes, it's not solely mine. But part of it is, because I could have made different decisions and set different priorities. I don't feel that the grades I assigned were undeserved; that's not what I mean. It's just that they're my grades, too. And I have a right to be disappointed in myself when I contemplate them.

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