Writing In defense of the F-word in K-16 education, J. Martin Rochester, a political science professor at University of Missouri in St. Louis, shares an e-mail from a student who failed his course. It was her first F ever, she wrote.
” I complied with the paper and the two tests, and you mean to tell me I did not get anything from the class. I will appeal this because who is the failure? You are the teacher whom I relied upon to teach me about a subject matter that I had no familiarity with, so in all actuality I have been disserviced, and I do expect my money back from the course, you did not give me any warning that I was failing! You should be embarrassed to give a student an F.”
The student didn’t buy the textbook and came to class only sporadically, Rochester writes. Despite receiving an “elaborate study guide” before each exam and writing tips, she flunked the midterm and the final and earned a D on the term paper.
. . . where my student is coming from, evidently, it is no longer sufficient to hold a student by the hand. You must now literally hand them a diploma.
From kindergarten to college, the F-word (“failure”) is verboten, Rochester complains. Teachers are told that “failure is not an option.” Their never-failed students show up in college “not only lacking basic academic skills and knowledge but also the most rudimentary understanding of what it takes to become an ‘educated’ person. ”
Thus, on my campus and many others, “retention” centers are proliferating along with “early alert” warning systems designed to help students by sending them regular reminders to come to class, turn in work by the due dates, and perform other basic obligations that can be gleaned if they simply read the syllabus.
Coddling has gone to college, Rochester writes.
Professors who resist the decline in expectations face “equity” pressures — and pressure from “cash-strapped colleges wanting to retain tuition-paying students.”
Ricki’s Special Snowflake has graduated. No more whining!