As we approach the end of an unusual school year with a modified grading policy, it is natural for an educator to pause and ask, “what are we teaching students and what are they learning?” Are we saying that if we are ever faced with adversity, it’s OK to shut down? What if we’re hit with injustice — is it OK to give up? The unintended consequences of modified grading are students learning apathy and how to blame a broken system. Students must learn that they are ultimately responsible for their own learning.
Miguel, one of my students, gave me this valuable feedback: “Distance learning has been hard, Mr. Lue, but thank you for ‘keeping it real.’” His message inspired me. Years ago, my father told me that life’s not fair, so deal with it. His lesson taught me how I could navigate life’s real challenges.
My dad recently died in a veteran’s home under the restrictions of COVID-19. He was in a hospital or skilled nursing facility for over two months. Most of the time, the facilities were locked down, and my father who was experiencing excruciating pain and loneliness could not have visitors. Life’s not fair. To my father, who taught me, and to my students, who allow me to teach, here is an algorithm for keeping it REAL: Resiliency + Efficiency + Accountability = Longevity
I believe adversity can be a learning opportunity and a valuable teaching moment. Isn’t it time to reimagine education and learning — just keep it real.