Will Learn for Candy...

A candy for your thoughts...
It's the first week of the new school year, and your tenth grader comes home with a list of school supplies for you to purchase for his/her class.  The list of "Supplies/Materials to Buy" reads:

  • One binder
  • Blue and black pens
  • Pencils
  • One box of Kleenex
  • TWO (1 lb. each) bags of wrapped candy "to be used in class for incentives during learning activities"

Let's read that last part again, shall we?

"to be used in (TENTH GRADE) class for INCENTIVES during LEARNING activities."

Ok, you want me, the parent, to provide you, the teacher, with candy so that you can persuade (entice, induce, draw in, bait, etc.) your students, including my child, to participate in class.  Hmm.

Seriously?!  Since when do we have to coax our tenth grade students with CANDY?  I thought this kind of educational bribery ended in elementary school or perhaps even pre-school!  I'm sorry but back in my day, which wasn't all that long ago, our INCENTIVE to participate in class was ... are you ready for this?  TO LEARN!  That's right.  Some of us actually wanted to do the work so that maybe we'd have a shot at oh, I don't know... GRADUATING?!  Then, perhaps even a JOB and maybe a HOUSE or a CAR.  But who wants to look forward to cars and houses and diplomas?

As the years go by, it appears to me that our public school system is simply a microcosm of our country, both of which are slowly but surely evolving (and I use that term loosely) into the proverbial frog in the slow boiling pot.  At one point, the idea of social promotion seemed to be a thing of the past.  In recent years; however, we have seen it resurface under a different name.  I'll let you guess what that is.  We've seen firsthand a grading system that not only allows for free 100's for simply making an effort on daily grades (i.e. completion grades) but one which also leaves room for bonuses such as an additional 100 for your child's average if they can but pass that pesky TAKS test.  Oh, now don't worry...the standard is no longer 70.  It's 60!  So, tell Little Johnny or Susie not to sweat it.  

And aside from the TAKS, if they happen to fail a test in a particular subject, psha...they can take it over. Open book.  It's only worth about 40% of their entire grade anyway because the weight falls on those daily grades, and who remembers how hard those are to achieve?  Raise your hand!  Oh, and you'll be happy to know, dear parent, that if your child is in History class and writes a paper that is a grammatical catastrophe, the teacher really isn't an English major so it's not their job to correct or deduct points.  At least that's what the principal said.

Now, as we wind down, I just have one question: did anyone happen to mention that a whopping 80% of incoming college freshmen who graduate public high school with A's and B's must take REMEDIAL courses in order to stay afloat their first semester.  Why?  Because of a little thing called grade inflation.  Why?  Because students get more promotions than the superbowl.  Why?  Because none of them want to do the work.  Why?  Because the true incentives like pass if you work hard, fail if you don't aren't there anymore.  Consequences don't exist.  And, parents are stripped of their power to motivate their children when the school system makes allowances and excuses for them at every turn.  

So, back to this incentive business.  If Marie Antoinette were to read this, we know exactly what she would say.  Or, at least those of us who were forced to learn without candy know.  In the meantime...

... let them eat candy!