Wednesday, November 10, 2010

No Child Left Behind

So in Thailand, middle school students are not allowed to fail.  That's right, they simply aren't allowed to fail their classes.  So, what if they turn in all the work, but they did a terrible job and failed?  Why you round their grades up to just over 50% and call it passing of course!
Now, they CAN fail their standardized exams.  We have nothing to do with those exams.
But failing classes, and teacher administered quizzes and tests - that's simply not done in Thailand.  So as a teacher, I have very little to hold over their heads to get them to work.  Do your homework or you'll fail - nope, mommy or daddy will call and complain, the head of the program could be fired - many people would lose face.  And we can't have that, now can we?  Although the use of a very skinny bamboo stick is ok for discipline.  I don't personally have the bamboo stick, nor would I want it, but the head teacher does and sometimes comes in as a supportive "co-teacher" when the kids are out of line.  At this point, I've threatened my students that I will not assign them a semester grade until all work is completed.  That's the worst I can do, give them an incomplete.  And then I still have to continue allowing them second chances.  At some point, you just have to make up their score and pass them.  Not that I'm going towards that without a fight.  My most recent threat to get students to do work is students with missing assignments will get even longer assignments than their peers.  Though it is a fine line to walk between pushing them to succeed, and having them or their parents complain and getting reprimanded.
They do have spunk, I'm thankful for that.  Such writing assignment answers as "I'm about to skip Ms. Jenny's class to have a late lunch," certainly show that.  I'm all about laid back "Thai style" but the inability to fail a student that deserves it is unbelievably aggravating.

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