Friday, 15 May 2009

Welcome to the No-Zero Generation

Two stories in the Edmonton Journal recently seem to me to be directly connected. Today's paper tells of the experience of a Journal reporter being swarmed by a group of youths late at night.

A few days ago, this story appeared regarding the reluctance of school officials to hold students accountable for their failures.
Zero is becoming the toughest mark for students to earn in a growing number of Edmonton-area schools. Many schools have adopted a "no-zero" policy when it comes to assignments and tests, giving students multiple opportunities to hand in work past deadline or to redo failing assignments or tests. It is part of a national trend proponents say will help ensure more students make it through the school system, learn course material and succeed. Critics argue it fails to prepare students for the real world. In the Edmonton Public school district, many schools, particularly junior and senior highs, have operated under no-zero policies for several years.
"It's a philosophy about not giving up on kids," Corrie Ziegler said. "We will do everything we can before we give any child a zero. We want to give them every opportunity."

"Every opportunity..."? Why is one opportunity, the first one, not enough in all but the most exceptional cases? This is merely a continuation of the focus on the, "self esteem," "you are the center of the universe" philosophy children have been taught for the last generation or so. It has been a teaching that fosters an attitude of entitlement with no responsibility or accountability.

I am an employer, and I can say that kids who expect a, "no-zero" policy in the real world are in for a rude awakening. They certainly wouldn't last very long in my shop. It seems to me that, "no zero" quickly becomes, "Who cares?"

If there is no accountability, people do what is right in their own eyes.

Take Care

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