When Jane was in 6th grade she struggled with organization. Homework and other assignments were constantly getting lost or not turned in. One semester she had a C in something, English perhaps, and was able to turn it around into a nice high B. Although pleased with a B I told her that we wouldn’t be celebrating it.
If a B was demonstrative of Jane working to the best of her ability I’d throw her a party for it but this B was Jane salvaging the beginning of a not-good start to the trimester. When the kids get B’s on tests it’s time to study a little more, if they have a C it’s time for a tutor (which at times is me) because learning new concepts is like erecting a skyscraper. You need a sturdy foundation.
Last night Jane came home from school after having sex education. High school sex education is (by necessity) quite different than middle or lower school sex ed. She was squeamish talking about things like Norplant and IUDs. Alexander was fascinated and, predictably, I had to interrupt with a condom lecture. I told them that babies aren’t the only things we want to avoid and then Jane regaled us with an in class anecdote.
Apparently the instructors were talking to the kids about using condoms and explained that when used correctly they had a 2% failure rate, which is pretty impressive. Unfortunately condoms are often not used or stored correctly and the actual failure rate is 18%. The kids didn’t seem moved by this information until one of the boys noted that an 18% failure rate is 82% or a B-, at which point they all started freaking out.
It’s scaffolding. Not accepting a B may have seemed harsh in 6th grade but as we apply it to today’s lesson, it’s bordering on brilliant.