Another common letter or comment on blogs comes from employers. It goes something like this:
I run a business where I hire these kids. They are lazy and entitled and they don’t think they have to work hard. They miss work on a whim. If we give them zeros in school, they will learn to work hard.
I’m going to sound a little crazy here, but what if giving kids zeros is what is actually responsible for the work ethic described above?
Most of the young people entering the workforce right now are products of a system in which zeros are assigned. Very few schools have banished them, and those that have, have done so recently. So these lazy and entitled young people (employer’s words, not mine) are coming out of a system that permits zeros.
In case you didn’t already know it, I need to say it. Some teenagers are lazy. They want to get by with the least amount of work. Schools that give zeros entitle them to get by with the least amount of work. Students can still pass a course with several zeros. Their average will be lower, but it will remain a passing average. 52% is good enough for some kids. They’d prefer to take the zeros and the resulting 52% average than actually do the work. This system teaches them that work is optional. It teaches them that they can choose which aspects of their work they will do, and which aspects they won’t do. Do you see the connection to the comment above? No wonder they’re coming out lazy and entitled (employer’s words, not mine).
In the system I’m advocating, choosing not to do the work is not an option. I won’t let the kid opt out of an assessment that I deem essential. I won’t let the kid skate by doing the minimum amount of work. I get him to do the work. I teach him to meet his obligations. Will that kid end up lazy and entitled?
Note: Credit to my director, who brought up this idea in conversation yesterday. I told her I was blogging it. I did.