So, The Boy brought home his midterm report and his grades were….interesting. I get the regular ones–he snagged a couple of A’s and B’s–he had a veritable alphabet soup of grades. Right down to an E. Excuse me? An E? What the heck is an E? And when did they change these grades on us? Granted, they didn’t give F’s in elementary school–something about scaring Johnny’s psyche or something. Quite frankly, if Johnny can’t read or do basic math, he should be getting Fs. And what about the “needs improvement” rating? Talk about damaging. Like don’t we all need improvement? There making success seem so unobtainable. I find “needs improvement” more demeaning and insidious than just FAIL.
Actually, in elementary school, E stood for Excellent so it took a bit of explaining to The Boy that, no, having a ZERO in a class and receiving an E is NOT A GOOD THING. At least FAIL might get you here:
Now I never brought an F home because I knew my father would have beat me within an inch of my life. Even bringing home a C meant no outside activities. Once, I got a D in typing. I was grounded for the entire summer of my Senior year. The teacher had actually averaged my grade the first two times and it’d come out as an F. When she saw the tears well up in my eyes, she suddenly “rounded up” and suggested I not look for a career that involved typing. We’ll just leave that comment alone, okay?
But an E seems so…wimpy. Its going along with the whole, “we don’t want to damage their esteem.” I’m sure that someone, somewhere decided that if we didn’t change it to an E, we would confuse children as to what the alphabet is: A, B, C, D, F…but teacher? Where’s the E?
I warned The Boy that I was going to blog about this–I warned him that since I was no longer able to spank (thanks Child Protective Services) and time-outs were no longer effective, that I had one tool left in my parenting arsenal: humiliation. It wasn’t like he got the E in something academic, something challenging. Heck, he even made an A in gym and I don’t know he accomplished that one. Nope, he got his E in Health.
When I was in college–my Southern Baptist college (Go Eagles–and not the ones from PA), I took a Sex Ed class. Don’t get excited, I did say we were SB. The course was only offered as Pass/Fail and the ONLY way you could fail was if you didn’t come to class on Fridays to take the quiz. The quiz was about as basic as could be. You could skip all week and still score 100 on the quiz. So one day I asked my professor why he offered the course as Pass/Fail and he replied that it felt wrong to fail anyone in Sex Ed, and at the same time, he didn’t want to have to deal with any parents if he gave a student an A.
When I questioned The Boy about his E, he claimed that he did the work and “lost” it. A quick call to the teacher revealed that it isn’t homework that is brought home–it’s done in the classroom. HOW the heck do you lose work IN THE CLASSROOM?
I did a little Googling to see if I could find a good humiliating word for E–like elegy, eradicate, or edentulous. Believe it or not, I actually found that there is a word for it in the academic arena: échec. It’s pronounced “ay shek” which, personally, sounds a little vulgar.
“EY, shek you.”
“No, shek you.”
Surprise. It’s French.