"By doing better on tests and quizzes."
"Is there any extra credit I can do?"
How often has that dialogue occurred in my class, and how often will it occur in future years?
There seems to be a disconnect between me and some students. They view a grade as the goal, the purpose of taking a class. On the other hand, I view content mastery, partially reflected by the grade, to be the purpose of taking a class. In the view of some of them, I should give as many opportunities as possible to get a higher grade.
They don't understand that tests and weekly quizzes are exactly the opportunities I provide, since those account for 80% of a student's grade in my class.
I don't understand the purpose of extra credit. Sure, I give bonus problems on tests and quizzes, but those relate directly to what I'm teaching. Extra credit--writing a paper about a famous mathematician, or something--exists only to boost a grade artifically.
"But if I have that B+ on my transcript, I won't get into Stanford!"
I guess they don't see that if I give them an unearned grade, I might be contributing to keeping someone else out of Stanford--someone who knew the material better.
And so it goes.
I started writing this after reading a post at Joanne's site (see blogroll at left) in which a high school English teacher has labelled the first three weeks of school in a manner reminiscent of the stages of grief:
The first week is Disbelief and Dismissal Week
The second week is called Haggling and Hating Week
In week 3, Resolution and Restoration....