Bennett's Blog

Teacher gets suspended for giving zeroes - WTF?

Bennett R. Coles | June 15, 2012

We stood in grim silence, twenty naval officers in two ranks of ten. Plastic, yellow rain pants and tattered headbands were all we wore, except for marks of camouflage paint smeared over our cheeks. Warm wind teased our bare skin under the starry sky, and below us we could hear the gentle rush of the ocean breaking against the bow of our warship. From the shadows came a steady barrage of catcalls and insults, broken only by the occasional water balloon.

Our latitude was approximate zero degrees and ten minutes north, and the venerable maritime tradition of Crossing the Line – when Tadpoles become Shellbacks – was at hand. In a world of lawsuits, scandals and political correctness, the fact that the ceremony of crossing the equator was even permitted is startling. Even more startling might be that – as I stood half-naked, soaked and singled out with my nineteen companions – I was ecstatic to be there.

Let’s compare this scenario to what’s currently playing out in Edmonton, Alberta. In a certain school, apparently the principal has decreed a “no-zero” policy for marks, meaning that teachers can’t give zeros for any assignment, quiz or test, even the student submits nothing, skips the quiz, of hands in a blank test sheet. The argument is that to receive a zero would hurt the dignity of the poor student, thus crushing their self-esteem and drawing them into a spiraling abyss of underperformance.

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