Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Are grading trends hurting socially awkward kids?

I have a piece on this in today's Atlantic.

10 comments:

momof4 said...

All of my kids are neurotypical, none are shy, and they all finished school before the worst of the group work and oral presentations hit (thank Heaven), but they all hated the times they did have to do either, because it was a huge time sink. Working independently, they could have covered vastly more content in that time - even if the content presented was of good quality (and much of it wasn't). I also take issue with the intrusiveness of endless story-writing on personal topics; no kid should be forced to share his/her emotions.

Auntie Ann said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Auntie Ann said...

We just got out kid's interim report card: it was filled with different versions of "doesn't work well with others". This is a 5th grader who has been bullied at the school from the beginning, and he's being graded on how well he cooperates in class with his tormentors. The school just doesn't get that "cooperative learning" simply brings the playground hierarchy into the classroom and ties kids' grades to where they stand in the social ranking of the class.

This drives us insane.

Furthermore, never, in all the years of these report cards--which will be reviewed by the admissions departments of the schools he will apply to next year--have they ever mentioned that he's been bullied for years. As far as the admissions departments will know, he's a difficult child who doesn't cooperate well. They won't see that he's doing the best he can to keep his head above water in a hostile environment.

Anonymous said...

My son, who scored 99+ on the reading portion of standardized tests every year, was placed in remedial ELA in 8th grade because he did not participate in class.

Auntie Ann said...

As a certain blogger likes to say: sending your kids to public school increasingly looks like parental malpractice. (Though, in our case, the school is private.)

Barry Garelick said...

There are comments left at Katharine's Atlantic article that question the veracity of her claims, and accuse her of exaggeration. They state this is not a problem. I have heard otherwise from many parents and have seen it myself. Those of you with such direct experience (and some of you have expressed your experience here) are encouraged to do the same at The Atlantic article.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Katherine-- great article, and in an 'easy to get family and friends to click on' format! (i.e., on a site they actually read.) The article and the comments both seem to point to the idea that, as currently structured, school is no place for smart but quirky kids.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Barry-- I think part of the problem is that 'social skills' come naturally to many teachers (which is why they chose a career where they spend all day with PEOPLE and breaks in the faculty lounge with MORE PEOPLE), and so they don't realize that, for a large minority of us (especially the aspies and the ADHD), social skills need to be taught. They chalk our awkwardness up to a lack of experience when really it's a lack of knowledge. So they don't see these things as a huge part of the grade, because they don't even NOTICE their assumptions, and they assume that awkward kids must be interrupting and correcting the teacher and rambling on inappropriately as a deliberate act of malice, not as an actual 'lack knowledge or self control to sit on hands and refrain from launching into a lecture on the topic.'

Which is why they then throw the chalk at us and say 'if you're so smart, why don't YOU teach the class," and then get all mad and start screaming when you take them up on their offer.......

Maybe ed schools need to have enforced group projects with STEM people so that the teachers can learn how other brains work?

Barry Garelick said...

Good point, Dierdre. I hadn't considered that. And a lot of the negative comments were from teachers, who were feeling that their ox was gored.

Anonymous said...

It also occurs to me that much of what today's educational establishment believes must be taught in the realm of ability to work in a group, is actually developmental and would be learned as a part of the maturing process anyway. Our grandparents and parents apparently learned those skills by the time they were adults -- they worked farms, for example, which is almost never a solitary endeavor overall. They ran stores. They ran households of ten kids. And so on. The other thing they forget is that even today's kids have a lot of exposure to real (as opposed to classroom-invented) team situations ranging from family life to sports teams to amateur theatricals to part-time jobs.