Throughout her academic career, my daughter worked exceedingly hard to earn high grades. A consummate overachiever, she maintained an A-average from elementary school through her recent master’s degree. Her education was serious business.
When she was in middle school, probably around seventh grade, the scale for earning an A was a numerical score of 95-100. All that changed when the local school board lowered the standard to a range of 90-100. The board’s rationale was that the change was more consistent with grading policies throughout the state.
My daughter was pissed. She felt cheated. For two years she had busted her butt to earn that higher grade, and now anyone could slip under that 95 mark and get an A too. To her, the change was unfair to the students who put in the extra work and time for the higher scores. She thought lowering the requirements cheapened the A.
Yeah, she was like that at age 12. She had a very heightened sense of fairness.
I say all this because of the recent controversy over a teen Jeopardy contestant’s claim that he was cheated when he was disqualified in final round for misspelling his answer. He and his parents apparently feel that faux pas did not rise to the necessary level of incorrectness.
This kid, regardless of his intent, misspelled the answer. The boy who won, did not. Were they both supposed to be ruled correct? How is that fair to the contestant who spelled his answer right?
Where do we as parents, as educators, as the general public, draw the line? When do we begin to hold our children accountable. Schools, and television game shows by extension, must be able to tell a student: “I know you know the answer, but that isn’t enough. Spelling counts, math counts (show your work), chronology counts, historical dates count, grammar counts, punctuation counts… it all counts!”
Accountability people! We aren’t doing these kids any favors by letting them slide, by only expecting the bare minimum of effort. It is not helping them when we are more concerned that a B or C hurts little Johnny’s feelings, than that he can’t read or express himself in an intelligent way.
In real life, a misspelled word can mean a murderer goes free on a technicality. An error in math can mean a widow loses her home and life savings. A misplaced comma can mean life as we know it is over.
It all matters! I bet the boy who lost won’t misspell “Emancipation” again. If only his parents would also teach him that he can’t win every time. Life can be hard, and he has to take responsibility for his mistakes and learn from them.
Parent, we can’t save our kids from every problem they face in life. How will they become independent and capable adults if we do?