To prepare “difficult” students for the real world, make it “really hard to fail,” argues Dr. Allen Mendler, an education consultant, on Edutopia’s blog.
An effective practice is to “appreciate and focus on the student’s strengths rather than emphasizing and punishing shortcomings such as lateness, lack of productivity, and disruptive behavior,” Mendler writes.
But critics say that’s preparing students to be fired.
Grading for progress rather than achieving a “group-based standard” also doesn’t work in the real world, critics say.
School isn’t like the workplace, Mendler argues. Students have to go to school and take courses in subjects they may not like or be any good at. In the real world, workers can specialize.
“Make it really hard for students to fail school,” he writes. “Not impossible, just really hard!”
Do what you can to impart important life skills such as a solid work ethic, promptness, patience, and getting along with others. Have rules and, as much as possible, “logical” consequences for unacceptable behavior. (For example: “Work needs to be completed. You can do it in class with others, at home, or during recess.”)
. . . I am far more likely to motivate an uninterested student with poor attendance to show up, and therefore make it more likely that she will pass my class and graduate, by telling how much we missed her during her absence rather than by giving her a zero on missed assignments.
School success doesn’t always predict success in life, he concludes. Of course, school failure usually does predict future failure.