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No-zero policy in schools

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Icarus
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#1

Posted 01 June 2012 - 12:04 AM

A topic like this might attract more attention in General Chat, but I would rather have a more intelligent discussion, so I bring it to the fine folks here in Debates and Discussion.

Every day, while I'm eating lunch or supper or just sitting back and having a drink, I read the news online, because I like to keep up-to-date with local, national, and international news. Today, a local story caught my attention, especially since it relates to a field I plan on going into in the very near future.

Here is the article I am referring to.

Now, it appears a local physics teacher at one of the high schools believes he has been suspended for handing out zeros (and insubordination), contrary to the school having what is known as a "no-zero" policy. In short, the policy says that you are not allowed to give a zero for incomplete work; at the end of the year, your mark would be based solely on the work that you completed, but the teacher could use their professional judgment on how to deal with the incomplete work when assigning a final grade (e.g. lower the grade due to the fact there was incomplete work on the student's file). The physics teacher said he could not, in good conscience, follow this policy as it strips students of any form of academic accountability.

Sadly, this isn't the first story I've read related to academic policy that seems a bit backwards.

This article is from Newfoundland and Labrador, a province in Atlantic Canada.

The premise of the policy there is that if you cheat, you are not to be assigned a zero; rather, you are allowed to re-do the test.

Now, maybe I'm a bit old fashioned, but if you fail to do the work that is assigned to you, why should you expect to get anything other than a zero? If you're having some personal problems outside of school, I can understand the delay and most instructors I've known are pretty good about extensions for extenuating circumstances. However, if you're just lazy and didn't feel like doing the work, you shouldn't expect anything but a zero.

The cheating policy is Newfoundland also seems pretty backwards. I mean, if you cheat, why should you be given a rewrite with the potential to get a better mark than someone who legitimately studied and put in the effort. If you cheat, you should be given a zero. That's how it was when I was in school and I only graduated from high school in 2006, so not that long ago.

Universities (for the most part) and the real world aren't going to coddle you this way. In university, if you don't hand in an assignment, there's no question you'll be getting a zero. If you don't write an exam, unless you have a doctor's note saying you were incapacitated by illness or you were attending a grave personal crisis, you should expect a zero.

If you're at a job, if you show up to work and don't do anything, you shouldn't expect to stay on the job long; there's no, "Oh, well at least you showed up, so we'll pay you anyways."

It seems like in Canada (at least), we have this need to coddle students and shield them from the harsh reality of the real world. Unfortunately, the real world is cruel and you need to prepare students for that; you can help to soften the impact, but you can't totally avoid it - that's just life. It's also scary because this country's education system seems to breeding a generation of the work force that will expect to get something for nothing, which is downright ludicrous.

Call me old fashioned, but if you don't do the work, you shouldn't be getting any credit for it. You should not expect to get something for nothing. If you want something, work for it - bottom line.

Thoughts on the no-zero policy?

Chunkyman
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#2

Posted 01 June 2012 - 12:14 AM

I don't have any real problem with the cheating policy you mentioned. I break just about every academic policy my college has, so I'm not too keen on punishing others who happen to get caught. If I'm clever enough to never get caught, I deserve my good grades lol.

A middle ground would be the most logical system, where breaking academic policies resulted in neither no consequences nor severe consequences.

Tom Toole
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#3

Posted 01 June 2012 - 01:54 AM

Did you know... Rich people can pretty much buy their diplomas? I mean "education" as it exists is just a cover for the promiscous relationships between the old rich in powerful positions and the new rich not yet in powerful positions.

No rich student will receive a zero if his parent donates to the school. (unless the kid is explicitly rebelling and not just irresponsible)

f*cking exploitation of the poor, man, it never ends.

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#4

Posted 01 June 2012 - 04:13 AM

QUOTE (Tom Toole @ Friday, Jun 1 2012, 01:54)
Did you know... Rich people can pretty much buy their diplomas? I mean "education" as it exists is just a cover for the promiscous relationships between the old rich in powerful positions and the new rich not yet in powerful positions.

No rich student will receive a zero if his parent donates to the school. (unless the kid is explicitly rebelling and not just irresponsible)

f*cking exploitation of the poor, man, it never ends.

Errr... How is that (even if it were true) exploiting the poor?

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#5

Posted 01 June 2012 - 06:27 AM

If a student gets a zero on a test they should be allowed to redo the test. If the student fails the test a second time they should have to redo the subject.

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#6

Posted 01 June 2012 - 10:42 AM

I think this idea of someone not been given a zero and that sort of thing is just silly to be quite frank. If they fail or don't complete something, then that's what has happened. There is really no way around that being a fact to be honest.

It's just generally getting ridiculous with this sort of thing. I've heard that where I stay, teachers aren't allowed to put crosses for wrong answers on work now. They have to put a dot instead. It effectively means the same thing though, so makes no difference to the quality of the answer at all.

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#7

Posted 01 June 2012 - 04:40 PM

It's ridiculous. If you don't do the work, you get a 0. Simple as that. That's how it happened back in my day, and that's how it should happen in order to prepare kids for the real world. No one gives a sh*t about "trying" when it comes to the real world. You won't get a medal for it, you won't get a job for it. Real world cares about action and results.

That said, I also think it's stupid to allow someone to re-do their exam if they are caught cheating on it. When I was in school, if you were caught cheating, it was an instant fail. Otherwise if you think you aren't prepared enough for the exam, or just didn't care for it at that day, might as well just cheat in order to try again later, and then be truly prepared.

Back in Brazil, we have this law that prohibits public schools from failing their school year and being held back. That means that even if you don't do anything for the entire year, get 0 in all subjects, you'll still advance to the next grade. The only reason it exists is to support government statistics about more kids being in school and whatnot, while getting no real improvement. Its just stupid.

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#8

Posted 06 June 2012 - 12:44 AM

No zero policy? pfft... my grade 9 tech teacher should be fired, she gave half the class a 0--

yes... a zero minus minus, and all because we couldnt do a accurate architectural sketch (lines have to be perfect)

and on top of all that she ate a peanut butter sandwich everyday....in a peanut free school...

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#9

Posted 11 June 2012 - 09:45 PM

QUOTE (Chunkyman @ Friday, Jun 1 2012, 04:13)
QUOTE (Tom Toole @ Friday, Jun 1 2012, 01:54)
Did you know... Rich people can pretty much buy their diplomas? I mean "education" as it exists is just a cover for the promiscous relationships between the old rich in powerful positions and the new rich not yet in powerful positions.

No rich student will receive a zero if his parent donates to the school. (unless the kid is explicitly rebelling and not just irresponsible)

f*cking exploitation of the poor, man, it never ends.

Errr... How is that (even if it were true) exploiting the poor?

Rousseau is like all up in saying that like Arts and sciences are like corrupting of the human society right? instilling differences and all? So like the school does that all the more right? it instills differences between people.

It's like you can pass and you can't.

I mean is culture fundamentally just a tool to confuse the people? like schoolwork and so on - is it just to have an excuse to say - you know - you guys don't have anything cause you didn't do well enough in this useless busywork - you didn't do well enough in an artificial useless test.

And on the other hand it creates a self-satisfied bourgoisie who believes that it got it's property by merit.

While still keeping those rich kids, the aristocracy you know... above the law and all - they don't have to do busywork but unlike both the self satisfied and the oppressed, they get a free pass.

So yeah I guess I forgot to mention that the oppression is not that these aristocrats get a free pass, but that the whole thing is basically a series of hoops, a series of useless party tricks, that most kids are forced into.

I mean i could go into it a bit more like how rich schools are different from poor schools. Where in rich schools you are taught sensibility to poetry and exercising your imagination, and in poor schools you are taught rote learning and mechanical formulas.

So you know, does that explain it? how it's exploiting the poor?

I guess the problem with cheating is that it doesn't break the system - it allows the bypassing of rote learning right? So a cheater achieves the same from the school as the aristocrat, but while the aristocrat has money, the cheater has what? he has survived the prison-like system that is school but has graduated to what? a world controlled by the trained pets and the aristocrats.

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#10

Posted 11 June 2012 - 10:10 PM

QUOTE (Tom Toole @ Monday, Jun 11 2012, 22:45)
Rousseau is like all up in saying that like Arts and sciences are like corrupting of the human society right? instilling differences and all? So like the school does that all the more right? it instills differences between people.

Of course it does. That's because people are inherently different.

QUOTE (Tom Toole @ Monday, Jun 11 2012, 22:45)
I mean is culture fundamentally just a tool to confuse the people? like schoolwork and so on - is it just to have an excuse to say - you know - you guys don't have anything cause you didn't do well enough in this useless busywork - you didn't do well enough in an artificial useless test.

Sorry, what on earth are you talking about? Are you effectively saying that we can't judge people on merit based on their abilities, skills and compatibility for a certain role- because if that's the case, which it appears to be, then I just cannot fathom how you can make such an absurd statement without justifying it.

QUOTE (Tom Toole @ Monday, Jun 11 2012, 22:45)
And on the other hand it creates a self-satisfied bourgoisie who believes that it got it's property by merit.

Again, what on earth are you talking about? I'm completely lost as to any point you are making here. None of the various tangents of your argument seem to connect to each other in any way. Oh, and its "bourgeoisie"- though if you are going to misuse a term, you might as well spell it wrong too though I suppose.

QUOTE (Tom Toole @ Monday, Jun 11 2012, 22:45)
Not I mean i could go into it a bit more like how rich schools are different from poor schools. Where in rich schools you are taught sensibility to poetry and exercising your imagination, and in poor schools you are taught rote learning and mechanical formulas.

What planet are you living on? Certainly not one that bears any resplendence to reality, it seems. Can you explain why you think "poor" schools are scientific, and "rich" schools are philosophical, when all the economic value is in the former rather than in the latter?

QUOTE (Tom Toole @ Monday, Jun 11 2012, 22:45)
So you know, does that explain it? how it's exploiting the poor?

Not really, no. Even if it made sense, which it doesn't, and was factually accurate, which it isn't. it doesn't actually demonstrate any exploitation of the poor.

I get the impression from your posts that you are a rabid Marxist who doesn't really appear to understand the philosophy he professes to adore. Your constant misuse of common terms in Marxist ideology, and your seemingly vague and nonsensical "wealth is bad, okay" crux seem to do a rather poor job of hiding the obvious fact that you've got absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

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#11

Posted 12 June 2012 - 04:48 AM

I have never head of a no-zero policy before, but it sounds completely preposterous. But the same could be said of most educational systems today. They way I see it is that school is there for two reasons: to teach you about life and the 'real world', and to teach you about the baser subjects (math, language, etc.).

The problem with a no-zero policy is that the students aren't doing the work, but are still receiving at least partial credit for it, which would mean that they haven't learned whatever is being taught (at least theoretically, but that's another problem with education), and that their views on work have been warped to believe that not doing work will still yield results, which is obviously untrue.

However, the classic system of just giving out zeroes to those who don't do the work still has much of the same problems. The students still don't do the work and still don't learn, but at least aren't imbued with the thought that they don't need to try to see results. But the problem with this system is that it's more about giving out grades than the actual knowledge itself.

The first article had something in it that I found interesting:

QUOTE
The thinking behind the policy is that failing to complete assignments is a behavioural issue and marks should reflect ability, not behaviour.


This is the problem with modern education. The focus is put on completing assignments, many of which might seem exceedingly pointless, without any thought put into whether or not the student already has the ability. The completion of assignments should reflect ability, but the assignments themselves should present a challenge to the student, and a chance to improve upon the abilities they should be learning.

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#12

Posted 12 June 2012 - 05:34 AM

This, unfortunately, is the reason why I believe standardized testing is a necessity.

Also - Icarus, does that policy you speak of mean that a student can essentially get a 100 once all year and that would be his grade as they only look at "completed work"?

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#13

Posted 12 June 2012 - 11:16 AM

Well...

QUOTE
The thinking behind the policy is that failing to complete assignments is a behavioural issue and marks should reflect ability, not behaviour.

Indeed, this is the really alarming bit... because that seems to point to the fact that we are content with having a future full of able idiots.

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#14

Posted 13 June 2012 - 03:06 AM

QUOTE ("sivis")
[I get the impression that] you are a rabid Marxist [and] you've got absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

Well... I can't say I express myself too well, I guess I would apologize for that. I guess I am after all responsible for causing your impression to some extent. But I must say you didn't seem to read the tone of what I was writing - the questions in there should have clued you in to the questioning, and not out and about affirming of my post.

Sivis said
QUOTE
What planet are you living on? Certainly not one that bears any resplendence to reality, it seems. Can you explain why you think "poor" schools are scientific, and "rich" schools are philosophical, when all the economic value is in the former rather than in the latter?

here's a quote, unfortunately not from the article I read on a similar topic.
QUOTE ("On Unions and Education")
The intellectual need of the young, to become "critical thinkers," requires schools that dare tackle stuff worth being critical about; it requires teachers who have the authority and respect to model the critical stance in the company of their peers and to present truly controversial stuff to the young. But at present only the rich can afford such schools—largely in the private sector or in the more affluent suburbs.

Good thinking cannot be passed on to the young by uncritical and compliant teachers. But, some would argue, such qualities are a luxury for the poor—and open to abuse. Let the regular schools first prove themselves on the ABCs and then, someday, they too can get to "critical thinking." There's a certain logic to this, but it will not and cannot lead to high standards (although one can call any score on any test "high standard" or "proficient" if one has the power to do so).

http://www.education...s_education.htm
This is the kind of difference between rich schools and poor schools I was referring to. Philosophical is a good word for it.

And I have to disagree fervently with the idea that the solution to the problem of cheating is standardized testing. Standardized testing creates a situation of "studying for the test" and severely limits curricula.

I believe Foucault wrote on how school is a lot like a prison. As a prison, as a method of controlling a large number of people, of limiting their freedom, of diminishing their power - it is something that an ideal society would do without.

QUOTE ("sivis")

QUOTE ("Tom Toole @ Monday @  Jun 11 2012, 22:45")

I mean is culture fundamentally just a tool to confuse the people? like schoolwork and so on - is it just to have an excuse to say - you know - you guys don't have anything cause you didn't do well enough in this useless busywork - you didn't do well enough in an artificial useless test.

Sorry, what on earth are you talking about? Are you effectively saying that we can't judge people on merit based on their abilities, skills and compatibility for a certain role- because if that's the case, which it appears to be, then I just cannot fathom how you can make such an absurd statement without justifying it.

Perhaps Sivis thinks most of what you learn in school you will actually use. What I am saying is that the "merit" prized in school is not real merit, it is fake, I believe I compared it to the training of a pet to do tricks.

QUOTE ("Sivis")

QUOTE ("Tom Toole @ Monday @  Jun 11 2012, 22:45")

Rousseau is like all up in saying that like Arts and sciences are like corrupting of the human society right? instilling differences and all? So like the school does that all the more right? it instills differences between people.

Of course it does. That's because people are inherently different.

I am afraid you are completely wrong Sivis. According to Rousseau we are not inherently different, but are differentiated by the state of civilization, first by arts and science, and then, forcefully, by the appearance of property. So in the state of nature we would be equal in truth smile.gif - very much thus not "inherently" but artificially unequal.

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#15

Posted 13 June 2012 - 03:56 AM

QUOTE

And I have to disagree fervently with the idea that the solution to the problem of cheating is standardized testing. Standardized testing creates a situation of "studying for the test" and severely limits curricula.

So what? What's wrong with studying for the same test that everyone in the country has to take?

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#16

Posted 13 June 2012 - 08:11 AM

QUOTE (Tom Toole @ Wednesday, Jun 13 2012, 14:06)
QUOTE ("sivis")

QUOTE ("Tom Toole @ Monday @  Jun 11 2012, 22:45")

I mean is culture fundamentally just a tool to confuse the people? like schoolwork and so on - is it just to have an excuse to say - you know - you guys don't have anything cause you didn't do well enough in this useless busywork - you didn't do well enough in an artificial useless test.

Sorry, what on earth are you talking about? Are you effectively saying that we can't judge people on merit based on their abilities, skills and compatibility for a certain role- because if that's the case, which it appears to be, then I just cannot fathom how you can make such an absurd statement without justifying it.

Perhaps Sivis thinks most of what you learn in school you will actually use. What I am saying is that the "merit" prized in school is not real merit, it is fake, I believe I compared it to the training of a pet to do tricks.

Well school isn't just to teach us things we need to know in life, the things you learn may be totally irrelevant to anything you do in life but it is a way of measuring.
Yes you are right, it is kinda like training a pet to do tricks, whichever "Pet" has the most determination and the most natural ability will learn the trick best and can perform the trick and show employers and such why they are the better "pet".

Imagine being an employer, and school grades and things never existed, how the f*ck are you going to know who is likely to be the better candidate? I suggest you suggest a better alternative.
---
Concerning the original post, let's have an assessment task, lets say worth 100 marks, and each question is worth 5 marks, a student hands in the assessment only having done one question but did it perfectly, he gets 5 marks and scored 5% on his assessment.

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#17

Posted 13 June 2012 - 04:47 PM

QUOTE

lets say worth 100 marks, and each question is worth 5 marks, a student hands in the assessment only having done one question but did it perfectly, he gets 5 marks and scored 5% on his assessment.

That's how it technically should be, but as Icarus said aren't schools grading only for "completed work"

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#18

Posted 13 June 2012 - 06:29 PM

QUOTE (Tom Toole @ Wednesday, Jun 13 2012, 04:06)
Well... I can't say I express myself too well, I guess I would apologize for that. I guess I am after all responsible for causing your impression to some extent. But I must say you didn't seem to read the tone of what I was writing - the questions in there should have clued you in to the questioning, and not out and about affirming of my post.

There are only two sections of your post which contain questions-

QUOTE (Tom Toole)
So you know, does that explain it? how it's exploiting the poor?

This appears, to me at least, to refer to the statements you make earlier in the post. That doesn't suggest questioning, that suggests a request for someone to rebut your argument, or to simply answer whether they feel that your earlier statements explain how current education is exploration of the poor. Which I did, negatively, as I fail to see any bearing between the comments that you made prior to this question and reality, either from a legislative perspective or from my own experiences in the field (though I'm not a career academic, I do work closely with academia at all levels though primarily at the further and higher education level but more on that later).

QUOTE (Tom Toole)
I guess the problem with cheating is that it doesn't break the system - it allows the bypassing of rote learning right? So a cheater achieves the same from the school as the aristocrat, but while the aristocrat has money, the cheater has what? he has survived the prison-like system that is school but has graduated to what? a world controlled by the trained pets and the aristocrats.

Again, look at the interplay between the questions and the final line- it's essentially a set of rhetorical questions used to emphasise the view, evidently held by you, that the school system seen in most Westernised countries is "prison like" and biased towards the "aristocrat", both of which I utterly reject (and will provide evidence to support my rejection later).

QUOTE (Tom Toole @ Wednesday, Jun 13 2012, 04:06)
here's a quote, unfortunately not from the article I read on a similar topic.
QUOTE ("On Unions and Education")
The intellectual need of the young, to become "critical thinkers," requires schools that dare tackle stuff worth being critical about; it requires teachers who have the authority and respect to model the critical stance in the company of their peers and to present truly controversial stuff to the young. But at present only the rich can afford such schools—largely in the private sector or in the more affluent suburbs.

[b]Good thinking
cannot be passed on to the young by uncritical and compliant teachers. But, some would argue, such qualities are a luxury for the poor—and open to abuse. Let the regular schools first prove themselves on the ABCs and then, someday, they too can get to "critical thinking." There's a certain logic to this, but it will not and cannot lead to high standards (although one can call any score on any test "high standard" or "proficient" if one has the power to do so).

This is the kind of difference between rich schools and poor schools I was referring to. Philosophical is a good word for it.

Its an interesting article, but my thoughts on your interpretation are as follows-

The article itself does not refer to any intrinsic issue within the structural organisation of modern schools as a general rule. It refers primarily to the monolithic United States secondary and further education model, and how institutions such as those lack the flexibility to cater properly for the diverse needs of their students due to their operation as "jack-of-all-trade" bodies. That's a view I also happen to hold, having come from an environment which for the early (and some of the later) part of my life revolved around small, "community"-type educational institutions (save for my undergraduate degree) with particular specialist expertise in certain areas. This is a model that's been embraced in the UK and has gained significant headway in the US as well. I personally do not see how you have associated the comments of Meier- someone whose view that education should be tailored to the individual needs of small groups of students has become the accepted norm in many places- with an underlying attitude of distrust for a system based intrinsically on measurable progress and the evaluation of performance based on certain criteria. Her complaint is primarily that mainstream American-model institutions whose sole purpose is to guide their pupils to an arbitrary goal without regard for the more subtle and nuanced elements of learning are failing to to provide effectively for their students- which is an entirely reasonable view albeit one that has existed elsewhere in the world for generations. But I refute both your insinuation that these sections discussing the financial aspects of schools that can, in her view, provide more specialist and valuable educational services are somehow the crux of the argument she is making when they are selectively quoted outside of context and poorly represent a very long article; and also her insinuation that critical thinking can be learned or taught. You can refine peoples critical thinking skills, sure, but the basic skill-set is very much linked to neurology and the intrinsic biases in individuals to favour either the left or right hemisphere of the brain (and of course how these different hemispheres process abstract ideas)- abstract reasoning ability which is the basis of critical thinking exists in almost everyone to some degree but some people are, put simply, more "suited" to it than others.

May I also say that, whilst I cannot speak personally for the experiences that can be had in the US educational system to which the original author refers, your analogy that "poor" schools teach differently from "rich" ones in the context of the United Kingdom is entirely inaccurate. Thanks to the previous Labour administration, you will not see a school in the UK "poorer" (in economic terms) than the remaining Grammar (selective) schools, yet they consistently outrank all other state and most other private institutional models not only in the quality of their assessed results but in the employment prospects presented to their students. Schools that select on the basis of merit and performance are, of course, logically far more likely to see higher educational dividends than those that don't (regardless of whether those schools select by economic status or postcode lottery); and whilst I concede that there is a tangible link between comfortable levels of financial security and high performance in terms of educational standards there's little to no evidence to suggest that beyond the point of "middle income" the financial prosperity of the parent or the cost of the school attended by the child bears more relation to their performance in testing or as an adult in the working environment than their intrinsic intelligence. Put simply, there is only so far money can get you in terms of improving your intelligence and later performance in life unless you start looking at the minute number of "dynasty" families whose children are guaranteed a job for life regardless of merit. One need only look at the demographic of most highly-placed universities in Europe to see this model in action.

QUOTE (Tom Toole @ Wednesday, Jun 13 2012, 04:06)
And I have to disagree fervently with the idea that the solution to the problem of cheating is standardized testing. Standardized testing creates a situation of "studying for the test" and severely limits curricula.

I entirely agree with this statement- the solution to the problem of "cheating" is to make the consequences of doing so worse than the potential gains. If the risk to the individual in terms of life chances and future prospects is so high as to make failure in a particular examination a favourable option, then cheating is effectively discouraged. One only need look at the effectiveness of zero-tolerance plagiarism policies in most universities to see this in action. Some will always run the gauntlet, but in the UK something like 98% of all complaints regarding plagiarism allegations made to the ombudsman that manages educational affairs are rejected on the grounds that the individual did wilfully engage in cheating. A zero mark for an entire module that an single work would have comprised 20% of is as effective a deterrent as any.

QUOTE (Tom Toole @ Wednesday, Jun 13 2012, 04:06)
I believe Foucault wrote on how school is a lot like a prison. As a prison, as a method of controlling a large number of people, of limiting their freedom, of diminishing their power - it is something that an ideal society would do without.

I'm pretty sure Foucault admitted his overzealousness in later works after alleging that all forms of publicly run hierarchical institution, be they prisons, healthcare systems or schools, were intrinsically designed to limit the power of the individual. Also, I refute the idea that a prison's primary purpose is to control large numbers of people- in order for control in the strictest sense to have any real overarching effect it must be done in a way without limits imposed and without the prospect of individual freedom. Both of these are clearly defined in most prison systems. Finally, discussing the idea of an "ideal society" is in my view unhelpful as idealism is subjective and individuals fallible. Such a concept can only remain a hypothesis in the mind of the individual who sees it as "ideal". It's not a shared notion and ergo of no value in a debate.

QUOTE (Tom Toole @ Wednesday, Jun 13 2012, 04:06)
Perhaps Sivis thinks most of what you learn in school you will actually use. What I am saying is that the "merit" prized in school is not real merit, it is fake, I believe I compared it to the training of a pet to do tricks.

Again, this is very subjective. The role of a school is to provide a basic grounding in as many disciplines, subjects, mindsets and analytical methodologies as possible, in order to determine what an individual favours or performs best at. Schooling cannot be overspecialised for the simple reason that doing so is essentially exclusive and therefore does not meet the primary criteria of "lower" level education. "Merit" in this context is not a general term but subject specific. There are very few people beyond the basic educational levels who have overall educational "merit" as you put it, due primarily to the fact that people generally favour one set of disciplines over another. Very little of what I learned in school I have used verbatim, but much of it has been useful in guiding my understanding of my own strengths and weaknesses and that's the basic purpose of primary and secondary education. Merit is only "fake" if you don't take from it anything of value, and whilst I agree that the arbitrary and archaic methods of assessing individual performance that are used in some subject are decidedly unhelpful in actual determining how skilled you are in certain areas, it still provides the best possible compromise of general applicability, ease of comparison and assessment ability. As an aside, may I ask, why you feel that merit prized in schools is "fake", when merit at its most basic is a subjective interpretation which in this context is shared by a group of people who use it to rationalise decision making? If such merit is "false", then what is "true", bearing in mine truth must either be self-evident or empirical beyond questioning?

QUOTE (Tom Toole @ Wednesday, Jun 13 2012, 04:06)
I am afraid you are completely wrong Sivis. According to Rousseau we are not inherently different, but are differentiated by the state of civilization, first by arts and science, and then, forcefully, by the appearance of property. So in the state of nature we would be equal in truth smile.gif - very much thus not "inherently" but artificially unequal.

In the context of the Rousseau's arguments, sure. But the concept of biological equality is contrary to accepted scientific thought. Humans are, on a genetic level, unequal, before you start factoring in environmental differences, whims and nurture. I don't disagree with your summary of what Rousseau has said, I disagree fundamentally with the actual content of his theses. The same way that biological factors make certain individuals more talented athletes, biological factors make certain individuals more naturally talented in certain disciplines. The idea of equality amongst individuals is, in this sense, like the idea of fairness and justice- great on a spiritual plain or in theoretical ethical discussion, unworkable in reality. To support equality in this context is to ignore the fundamental differences between humans (the same way to support "perfect" justice ignores the fundamental differences in human societies, or the way that "perfect" fairness cannot be achieved unless all individuals are identical in all deterministic ways), but to accept these differences is not to support inequality. Equality is not a general concept but specific; it must be combined with a caveat otherwise it suggests identicalness which is certainly not evident in reality. Its perfectly acceptable to believe in equality before the law as defined on a societal basis, but all other forms of general equality are in my view contradictory to biology. The moment you concede that some people are just better at some activities than others- and I think you would struggle to refute this- the entire idea of general equality goes out the window.

Icarus
  • Icarus

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#19

Posted 14 June 2012 - 02:09 AM Edited by Icarus, 14 June 2012 - 02:19 PM.

QUOTE (Irviding @ Wednesday, Jun 13 2012, 10:47)
QUOTE

lets say worth 100 marks, and each question is worth 5 marks, a student hands in the assessment only having done one question but did it perfectly, he gets 5 marks and scored 5% on his assessment.

That's how it technically should be, but as Icarus said aren't schools grading only for "completed work"

I can't say I know all the intricate details of the policy, because I didn't go to high school here and where I went to school, if you didn't hand something in, you got a zero. No debate.

From what I've read though, if you are in class and write a test but don't get a single question right, getting a zero is fair game. The policy applies to work that has been missed, so if you skip an exam or decide not to hand in an assignment.

Concerning your other question earlier in the topic, again, from what I've read, if you only hand in, say, 5/10 assignments and get 100 on each of those assignments, the teacher has the discretion to lower your mark, but not to assign a zero on the missed assignments (so they might not give you 100, but you might get a 90 - the penalty for not doing five assignments). It seems like a really broken system, honestly.

As for standardized testing, it would be a bit harder in Canada, because education is solely the responsibility of the province. I might be wrong in this, but in the United States, the federal government does have some say in education, right? I'm assuming that because from what I've gathered, SAT exams and AP exams are all written at the same time across the country and it's the exact same tests, so there's a federal component to it.

Alberta does have some form of standardized testing, though. For all grade twelve subjects, instead of the teacher writing and administering the final exam, the province does this; they're called diploma exams and they're worth 50% of your final grade in the course. All the exams for each subject are the same and administered on the same day, so for example, every student taking Physics 30 (grade twelve physics) will write the exam on the same day. The exams will also be marked by the province for consistency, not the teacher.

The school board here is getting a lot of backlash for the policy from your average Joe and parents. The teacher has also gathered quite a bit of support; he was planning on appealing his suspension, but when he was told he had a slim chance of winning and that he would be responsible for the costs of a failed appeal, he decided not to pursue it. It seems like he's being thrown under the bus and it's odd the teacher's union isn't helping him out. This seems like something they'd tackle.

Another teacher at the same school has also been suspended for disregarding the no-zero policy, so Lynden Dorval isn't alone.

I'm glad to see this topic picked up. icon14.gif

[EDIT] Although I'm not the biggest fan of standardized testing (because I feel the course ends up being more about how to take the test rather than actually learning the subject), the one thing I like about the United States is that since there are standardized tests that are federal, the curriculum must (again, I'm assuming tounge.gif ) be nearly uniform across the nation?

The issue in Canada with education being delegated to the provinces is that some provinces offer a better and more rigorous education than others. In Canada, Alberta and Ontario tend to have better quality high school education, where the Atlantic provinces (the poorer provinces, where I grew up) tend to be lacking. I really noticed this when I did my B.Sc. in Alberta and noticed how much more people were prepared for first year physics than myself, as they covered a lot more topics in depth in grades 11 and 12 physics than we did.




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