I have banned this statement in my classroom.
I was just wanting to know if any other teachers are tired and frustrated at hearing this statement made by your students.
As a side note, what do you think makes students think that "just passing" is okay?
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I feel the pain! This is a very frequent phrase heard around my school, and something the staff is constantly working against. However, nothing seems to have worked as of yet.
At my school in particular students do not see the value of an education, especially post-secondary. Despite teachers telling them that more education means better pay, better jobs, etc. these students don't see it. All they see are their relatives (many of whom are immigrants) who have very little education making "decent" money. I get the, "so what if I don't graduate? I'll just go work with my uncle" speech.
And unfortunately for those who do pass, those low marks will not get them accepted into any post-secondary institutions, so it's almost like it's not worth the effort.
The only saving grace is that the truly "academic" students do put at least some value in their work and attempt to get good grades. It is those who struggle in school who don't see the value. Maybe it's all tied to past achievement and that feeling of "getting it."
I must say that I certainly have a different perspective than when I posted this discussion. I believe that the answer which most hit home, for me, was the one provided by booboosmoosh. I never really looked at it from the perspective which you provided.
I have really begun to look at the students who say this and, unfortunately, they are the ones who have probably failed a lot in life. Getting that "D" is not failing and (for them) it symbolizes an accomplishment.
Thank you booboosmoosh for the new and eye-opening point-of-view.
Strangely, students believe that anything above an "F" is passing. They don't split hairs: if a kid earns a "D," he/she is able to convince him-/herself that it counts for something, whereas an "F" counts for nothing. When kids add up their grades at the end of the year, the "D" is worth one point. If the parents of the students demand that they pass, then they consider the "D" passing, and if they didn't work to get the "D," they're doubly pleased. It's very sad, but often true for kids who just want to be pushed along.
I think that "just passed" is seen as good enough because they see no real importance to the classes they are taking. They may (as with #8) not think that they will be going to college. They may know that they will go to a certain college with no real standards and therefore not really need excellent grades. If there is no connection in their mind between the grade and any real life outcomes, there is no reason they will try to excel.
I taught many students over the years who were just thankful to receive a "D" in my English class. Most of them didn't plan to attend college (and many of them deserved "F's"), but it always angered me that anyone could be so willing to be so terribly mediocre in any of their life's activities. Many of them just didn't believe that mastering English would be beneficial to them in their work as farmers, truck drivers and day laborers, and many of them had no higher goals for the future.
Why students think "just passing" is OK: because they are allowed to put forth a minimum amount of effort to pass the class. There is no such thing as pass/fail (or it is rare); instead, you can squeak by with a C- and still move up. No consequences, no motivation to excel.
As much as I have tried to refrain from responding to my own question, I cannot help but do so based upon the board responses.
The students that I hear this from are the ones who are NOT doing their best. Instead, they are simply doing only the least amount they need to (I have seniors--"senioritis" hit early!).
I like the idea of the reflection, but not for parents to sign (given my overall lack of parental involvement). That being said, perhaps I could use it to allow students to examine their work, but they know what they did. They readily admit they did not study or crammed in the minutes before the test. So, I do not think it would be a relevant analysis for my classroom.
Outside of that, I am glad to see that this does not only happen in my school. Unfortunate as it is.
Thank you to all of you and your postings. I appreciate the community support!
Is "just passed" good enough on the MCAT? How about the LSAT? It is, but the effort put in is much different than a grade level standardized exam that matters only to the teacher or school district. Some of my students know they are bound for trade schools that require their hand-on learning abilities which are different than those abilities required to complete a pencil and paper test. I like that you are challenging your students. Especially if you teach AP students, you need to hold them to a high standard. But, if you have students who many have learning gifts in other areas, you need to cut them a little bit of slack and value their gifts. I find that when I learn about my seniors who are learning about auto repair, construction, digital home wiring, or finance applications that I am in an entirely new field that intrigues me: they have talents I have yet to understand.
We all like to think that all of our students are eager to make the most of their educational opportunities, but the reality is that many of our students are just looking to graduate from high school and move on to the next phase of their lives. We know they are missing out and are going to possibly suffer for their less-than-stellar attitude and performance, but until they realize that, they could continue to have this attitude. Good teachers try to create lessons, activities, and assessments that encourage students to see how their academic classes have a skill or a content piece that is applicable in life beyond school. Students are more likely to put in the work and have a better attitude about their achievement when there is a "reward" beyond the grade.
I wish I had thought of banning that statement and attitude from my classroom! Good luck enforcing the ban; even more so, good luck helping students understand how inappropriate that attitude toward education is.
Reacting to your side note - not all students do think "just passing" is OK, but plenty do. I fear they observe adults doing "enough to get by" in their jobs or hear comments about projects that are "good enough" but no better, and develop the impression that it's widely accepted that mediocrity is adequate. The expectation that work at any level should be completed to the best of ones ability every time is becoming harder and harder to find in daily life. It's an uphill battle to build that kind of expectation within the classroom, but that's what truly great teachers do when they stretch students and force them to excel.
Students think that 'just passing' is enough now because think of it this way. College is expensive, the rate of tuition is increasing and not only do you have to pay that but you have to keep in mind the expenses of books, transportation, housing, and food. Just passing means a lot to a student in this day and age because it helps for a student to maintain their scholarships or grants. In terms of high school, as a senior I may understand since college acceptance letters and scholarship letters are very important and strenuous. Student's grades aren't being looked at for what they've learned or accomplished, most teacher's are basing them on what grade they've received. Even their own parents ask them "What did you get?" instead of "Did you put in your most effort?".
Funny I just went though this idea with my teaching degree. I had a class that was pass/fail, and I knew I could take the final and pass it with out studying at all, or even buying the book. I posed this question to my friends on face book to see what kind of response I would get.
"If you know you can pass the class with out studying, and the class is a pass/fail only do you take the time to study? Or do you accept that the best you can do is get a pass and just make that your goal?
I was surprised by the amount of people who said just pass the class, who cares as long as you pass... only one of my 28 comments said I'd study just because I would, and I"m an over achiever... I did study and I did pass the class, but I was amazed by the mentality.
For some kids, I think just passing is ok. I think you have to look at each kid individually. For the ones that struggle and struggle just to pass, passing is an accomplishment. We hope they go up from there. In my classroom, the question is if this is the best they can do. After every test my students fill out a reflection sheet, where they describe how they studied and how they feel about the grade. It goes home stapled to the top of the test, and the parent signs it.
Well said. Not all students can achieve high marks... if "just passing" is their best how can we criticize? I like the idea of the reflection sheet. The reality is that we can try to motivate, but in the end the old saying holds true that "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink".
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