Opinion | U.S. education policy has been guided by good intentions and bad ideas – The Washington Post

by | Nov 6, 2022 | Education

Jay Mathews’s Oct. 31 education column, “Divisive issue of easy grading escapes notice as some teachers quietly resist,” really struck a nerve. I recently retired from Fairfax County Public Schools, and shortsighted policies, such as 50 percent minimum grades, no homework and automatic promotion to the next grade, drove me to leave the profession. I couldn’t continue to work within a system that is harming children.Teaching children is like getting them to cross a wide ditch. There are two ways to get the children across a ditch. You can have them work to build their leg muscles, train them on jumping technique and coach them that failures are steps toward success. Eventually, the children will be able to leap the ditch. They’ll have gained knowledge and an appreciation that hard work pays off, that failure can be a great teacher and that they can conquer challenges. Or you can shovel dirt into the ditch so the kids can simply step over without effort, protecting them from any work or stress or potential failure that might damage their fragile self-esteem. They will have learned that work doesn’t matter, someone will catch them if they fall, and they’ll move on even if they haven’t learned anything. They will be weaker. In education, we have chosen the second option.For many years, U.S. education policy has been guided by good intentions and bad ideas. We’ve created a system in which everyone gets a trophy. It’s not the children’s fault. It’s the system. In the “real world” there’s no such thing as a free lunch. You don’t get 50 percent credit for doing nothing, and the same should be …

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