I have to thank the Crazy Teacher Lady for this term. It's something I have been trying to pin down and couldn't seem to put into words. Even though I recognize it for what it is, I'm still trying to put words to it.
Katie is a student in my chemistry class this trimester. She is what most would consider a "good" student, which means that she knows the Rules to the Game and plays it very well. She gets good grades because she can read and can figure out what it is that makes the teacher happy.
She got an A in Chemistry.
And I am simply sick about it.
Katie is a Grade Junkie, make no mistake about it. She struggled early on to find the rhythm of my class, but once she figured out which buttons to press, she flew with it.
The problem was that I had to hold her hand the entire way. I had her in my seminar (30 minute study period) and about three days a week, she would sit down with me to review chemistry. She retook more quizzes than all the others put together and in so doing raised her grade.
Now, I am certainly not going to tell a student that she can't come in and study for my class, and I don't want to sound like I don't want my kids to work hard, but at the same time, it has never been about the learning for Katie.
I think what really hit home for me in this situation was the last quiz she took. She raised her hand eleven time on a three question quiz. Seriously.
"Did I set this up right?"
"Um, do you think you did?"
"Well, I just want to make sure."
Katie has retaken quiz after quiz. I have no idea how many hours she has put into adding points to her total, but she second guesses every single thing she writes down. Her second guessing doesn't stem from wanting to learn, it stems from not wanting to lose points.
What really bothers me is that I don't even think it's that she's not confident in her answers.
I don't think she knows the answers.
This trimester has built on itself. We started with naming and formulas. We used those formulas to balance equations. Those equations showed us mole relationships, that we used to find limiting reactant and percent yield. If you didn't know your naming, you were without a paddle.
Katie didn't know how to name compounds. She would study, pass the quiz and apparently reformat overnight. The next day she couldn't recognize a polyatomic.
Katie has an A in Chemistry, but I would bet my periodic table that if you asked her any question, right now, today, about the subject she wouldn't be able to answer it.
So I have failed Katie. By posting an A for her grade, I am allowing her to leave and give the impression to everyone who cares to look that she understands Chemistry when she truly doesn't.
And I have allowed her to continue on believing that she is getting an education, when I haven't kept my end of the bargain.