Today S and I went to school for the school reports of our children. As usual we had to line up together with the other parents patiently waiting for the moment of truth. This report is a reflection of a whole series of mechanisms that play a role within the school and one should really not be surprised if the grade on the report is not really reflecting reality. OK, I have to define reality. Very tricky here since I have to trust my own perception of facts and my own interpretation of these facts. Reality in this context might be defined as a grade or vote that has been given by a teacher as a result of a test or a systematic check of once knowledge on a specific topic.
According to my daughter A she has not been doing tests for some of her subjects making it difficult to have a more or less reliable way to evaluate her knowledge. For these subjects the grade is only based on a perception of the teacher on how A is performing. Most of the grades on her report looked OK although you could see the votes were rounded off downwards so they can be lifted up on the next report. Standard practice to motivate, as the teachers explain it, the pupils to work harder. In other words, the grades are manipulated in order to give an unrealistic picture of the reality just for the sake of motivating? Yes, that is the way it’s done and openly explained as being normal practice.
Although most of the grades were OK there was one very low grade for music lessons. I already knew the teacher is a fanatic about the recorder flute and is dedicating a lot of time during the lessons to those that can play well on this instrument. If you can’t because you’ve not been in that class or group since the very beginning at the primary school, you are in trouble apparently. My challenge is now to find out why A was given a 4 (on a scale of ten) and needs to turn it into an 8 the next semester in order to have an average of 6 needed to pass.
This evening I’ve been evaluating the most constructive approach to deal with the problem. I will need to talk with the teacher and face him that if there is such a low grade there is a situation that needs to be addressed both by A and the teacher. If the grade is based on real evaluation of A during music lessons we should be able to establish points to work on in order to change the situation. I am asking myself how much I should take into consideration what I know about the teacher and how he is perceived by others. The danger here is that I am going to work out all kind of scenario’s in my mind that are never going to even near what will be the real conversation.
Therefore I decided to prepare myself in being stable and to evaluate in the moment the best answer to give. Of course I am investigating as much as possible on the situations A had experienced during music classes. I also will make a proposal in which A and also my son J (who got a 5 for the same reason) will dedicate time in order to improve their record playing ability.
If we can make an agreement in common sense and we can check the progress on a regular base showing there is an effort from the side of A, J and a backup from the parents we should have done our share. It is still not certain if this will be enough to make an average of six but since it is the only insufficient grade on the report there is very little chance A will not pass and be allowed to do the final exams.
Although very tempting I will not blame the music teacher for anything. I will take my responsibility as a parent being equal to him instead of feeling more and tell him he made a huge mistake by giving A this grade. I also will not allow him to feel more since that is equal to allow to be abused. I have no idea how I will manage to act in this last point but I’ll leave it to the moment.