Wednesday, August 17, 2016

No Extra Credit for Kleenex - Seriously

It's the same rant every year. We're in class in the first week or so, and a kid asks if I "have any tissues?" Hopefully we've started the year with a classroom box, but that depends. I casually recommend to the class that they may want to bring in a box of tissues because "at some point this year, we are all going to be snotty." By "snotty" I mean we will "all have mucus in our nose that we would like to expel onto a disposable tissue." So, knowing that, I try to bring in a couple boxes at the start of the year. And then the inevitable question comes:

"Can we get extra credit?"

Uh, .... NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

In my class, you may not "purchase grades." Not at all. Not through direct cash payments and not through the donation of consumer goods. Not a hundred points for a project and not two or five points for a box of tissues. Grades are a reflection of a student's academic record and course work. They represent his abilities in math, science, English, etc. Colleges will expect that the A- on the transcript was earned with high quality work. They don't expect that a B+ student can bump his grade up a level simply because he can buy and donate tissues.

I know, I know. There are plenty of justifications. "It's just a few points. It doesn't really affect their grades. It's an incentive. It's no big deal." But it is a big deal. It is at the very least an equity issue. How about the student who can't afford a box of tissues - much less five or six to donate to all his teachers. Granted, "they're only a couple bucks." But that is the perspective of a clueless middle-class individual who fails to understand that "a couple bucks" is still a big deal - and out of reach for some students.

Stop giving extra credit for tissues. Encourage kids to bring in a box out of the simple expectation that at some point during the year, they "will be snotty."

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