Who gives a flying F?

During the weekend, I read an interesting blog post about functional illiteracy. It left me thinking about how the current generation of adults are facilitating certain developments in younger people. It does not have to be limited to educational aspects, but that is a good pillar on which to focus. I then read an article in yesterday’s Washington Post about how a fail grade is being done away with by a certain high school, to be replaced by ‘incomplete’ (see Washington Post article about F grades at West Potomac School). I think what stunned me was a remark qouted from a high school area’s associate superintendant, which suggested that for school education, it does not matter when you master a certain skill so long as it’s mastered. Clearly, for some things, it really is not so important that you master it on Monday or Tuesday, but looking at it in that short time span is false. False, in that we have systems that are passages. We could, in principle, argue that you stay at school of a certain level until you master the skills needed for the next level, but who would agree to that with no cut off? Do you want 20+ year olds still at high school? Do you want teenagers still in the halls of lower school? It happens in some countries. But, it is an issue whether or not the inability to move past certain ‘gates’ should mean no more educational progress.

When you translate this approach to the world of work, it is not apparent that businesses or organizations in general will accept that when it gets done is fine, rather than it needs to be done in a certain time frame. The no-F-ing approach is a small step towards a certain kind of chaos. More living on the road of do it when you feel like it will leave no scope for criticism for people who decide that not bothering to show up today is alright so long as you show up sometime later.

I  read that many students do not see the system of ‘incompletes’ as having merit, as it clearly devalues effort and ability.

Admitted, school and other systems need to deal with those who cannot meet the standards, but that is not done well by pretending that the standards do not matter.


About The Grasshopper

Professional international economist, recently retired from an international organization. I use blogging as a way of organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, and spent many years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for a few decades, and worked and travelled abroad extensively. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of girls. Also, married to an economist.
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