One year, early in my teaching career, I got reprimanded for giving too many “A’s.”
“You can’t give everyone the same grade,” I was instructed. “Give a few A’s and F’s, and a lot of B’s and C’s. Otherwise, everyone will know that your class is either too easy or too hard.”
This was unremarkable advice; indeed, it was as close to the educational Gospel as you could find. It was human nature in action.
And, according to a new book, it was completely wrong.
The first time he got in trouble, 7-year-old “Z” kicked his teacher — getting him into more trouble.
A few months later, shortly after his grandfather passed away, he kicked his teacher again.
In many schools across the country, where zero tolerance policies allow little wiggle room for understanding why a child may be misbehaving, Z would have been suspended, expelled, or even arrested.
It’s been the no-brainiest of no-brainers for as long as anyone can remember: If you’re a parent, and you have the means to do so, a mark of your commitment to your children is measured by the amount of money you’re able to sock away for their college education.
But what if it’s no longer true?
I spent the first half of this week in Memphis, Tennessee, working with a remarkable local group of educators, parents and developers (yes, developers) who are all dreaming big together as part of Crosstown Concourse, an ambitious effort to redesign a 1.5 million square foot former Sears warehouse into a vertical urban village of residents, retail outlets, non-profits, and — wait for it — an innovative public high school.