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BOTD 4/23/17 "BFTP - 1960 - Earning Marks Reprised" A Kat Production

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David M. Katz

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Marshall
A Blast from the Past -- 1960 --Earning Marks Reprised
A Kat Production

You are the maths teacher at a well-respected but not top tier boarding school.
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You consider all your pupils capable of doing respectable work, which you encourage with a weekly test. Each week you set a minimum mark that your pupils must reach. Failure to reach the minimum mark results in a caning for each point the pupil is below the minimum. Today a pupil -- 14-year-old Albert Green -- brought a marking error to your attention, bringing his score three points below the minimum.

Do you cane him?

Also, now that you see the error, you realise another pupil -- Robert Browne, also 14 -- benefited as well but said nothing. Browne is also now 3 points below the minimum score.

Do you cane him? Does he receive punishment for failing to come forward?


Green and Browne - Both 14
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Jack

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I'll admit that the idea of punishing someone for not meeting some random mark bothers me. I especially have to wonder how much of the problem can be placed with the one teaching.

To be honest, it's not so much that I have a problem with the idea, but that going straight to the cane, instead of just using the slipper.

In this case, I'm going to thank Green for his honesty and give him a pass. As for Mr. Browne, I'm going to call him in and see what he has to say. If he 'just didn't notice it', I'm going to remind him that I review the tests for a reason and let it go. Anything else, and he'll receive the standard response.


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18Smacked

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Cowboy
It is nigh impossible not to point out that the teacher's expectations that "all (his) pupils are capable of doing respectable work." It is a fundamental pedagogical principle that every student has an individual potential that they may be capable of working at successfully. That 25 or so students would be equally matched n this regard is rather doubtful. The teacher needs to relearn much of what is taught in the teaching classes. Maybe then he would understand the error of his thinking and then provide smaller sections more closely geared to the capabilities of those students.

Automatically assuming the issue lies with the student, and therefore the cane is the instrument best suited to "encourage" the students who did not do well is not only overkill but tantamount to cruel. At the least it stands an excellent chance of souring a fair number of students on the beauty and brilliance of the subjects of maths.

My exposure to teachers who were not fully qualified to properly teach maths to a full spectrum of student capabilities caused me to have a phobia over maths. Only after finally finding teachers who were particularly determined to break my fears that tormented me and impeded my appreciation of the subjects could I prevail and successfully accomplish academic and professional tasks.

I like Jack's ideas regarding the two students with the mismarked papers, and think that is what should happen.

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StevieWeeks

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Trailboss
Depends upon how nasty an anus Stevie is and all...

If he's going to be administering corporal punishment to boys who make mistakes, it would behoove him not to make any errors himself...

In real life Stevie would probably find it very difficult to cane either boy in these circumstances...

AFinch

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Sherrif
Personally, I think that if all the students are capable of doing respectable work, then unless it can be demonstrated that they're bunking off, failure to do acceptable work would be the fault of the person doing the teaching. On that premise, I would not be spanking, slippering, caning, or otherwise punishing a boy for marks.

MemoryMan

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Sherrif
In principle I agree with Kier BUT being the cane happy teacher depicted in the scenario both Green and Browne will end up striped red and hopefully the school rules will allow me to decorate bare flesh.

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ivor

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Marshall
Accepting the principle set out in the scenario I would let Green off and thank him for drawing the error to my attention in private rather than in the classroom.

As for Browne, how am I to know if he looked any further at the test paper other than to see the mark he received and breathe a sigh of relief that he was not going to be caned? There is nothing to say he would have known I made an error and if I am going to excuse Green for pointing it out then I have no justification for caning Browne because he didn't find it.

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squarecutter

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Sherrif
Wonder if I made the same marking error on both papers. My instincts say Thank Green for his honesty and warn him to study harder for the next test. I think Ivor has the right answer for Browne but I will warn him that I will be extra vigilant with my marking next time and that Browne had better make sure to study more for the next one, (note as the 60s master I always assume low grades are due to poor work than poor teaching!

Jack

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ivor wrote:As for Browne, how am I to know if he looked any further at the test paper other than to see the mark he received and breathe a sigh of relief that he was not going to be caned? There is nothing to say he would have known I made an error and if I am going to excuse Green for pointing it out then I have no justification for caning Browne because he didn't find it.

A very good point.

In the previous scenario, it was pointed out that you reviewed the test in class, which means that Browne was either not paying attention or didn't admit the error. That isn't mentioned in this scenario, which means the fact that he didn't notice it is actually a viable alternative, and one I didn't account for.

If we did not review the test in class, and Green brought it to me, then I'd not only not cane Green, but I would not alter his grade. When I spoke with Browne, I would definitely change his grade, but not cane him unless I felt he was being actively dishonest for some reason.


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Kat

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Some teaching practices -- even ones that were common twenty years later when I was 14 -- have gone out of favor. Punishing kids for not meeting an arbitrary standard would meet universal censure now. In 1960, I think it would depend on the school.

Trying to adopt a discredited mindset isn't easy. However, in 1960, I think even a teacher who canes students for not reaching his standard might give the benefit of the doubt to the boy who doesn't speak up. I think all but the worst classroom tyrants would want to reward honesty more than punish failure; therefore, the boy who does speak up should benefit from his candor.

The question that interests me -- but one that is difficult to put into a plausible scenario -- is about what constitutes cheating. Would a boy who knowingly and provably fails to report a marking error be guilty of cheating?

Kat

db105

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Trailboss
I'll commend Green for his honesty and the quality of his character, but I'll tell him I still need to cane him, since otherwise it would not be fair to his mates.

I will also cane Browne for failing to reach the mark, although I will not punish him for failing to come forward. I will give him the benefit of the doubt on that, but even if I knew he had been aware of the error, I would still not punish him further, but just talk with him and explain that getting away with something is worth less than knowing you have done the right thing. It is perhaps too much to require a 14 year old to tell on himself and giving him extra punishment if he doesn't.

I will also inform the headmaster of Green's action, in the hope that he will add some kind of reward or recognition for his honorable behavior.

Kat wrote:The question that interests me -- but one that is difficult to put into a plausible scenario -- is about what constitutes cheating. Would a boy who knowingly and provably fails to report a marking error be guilty of cheating?


Strictly speaking, it can be considered cheating, but it's a passive form of cheating that I would probably not punish since, as I said, it may be too much to ask of a young boy. It's human nature to want to avoid punishment, and it's hard to go out of your way and tell on yourself.

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