I Care Less Than You

As a rule, about a week before the end of the term at the school where I work, I give my students the details of the final exam. This often ends badly.

One of the quirky things we do for junior high school students is tell them what the long writing/essay will be and give them a chance to practice. This means we are giving them, for free, twenty to thirty percent of the exam.

Also as a rule, if students aren’t listening–i.e. several are speaking when I’m attempting to explain the exam–I stop explaining and wish them the best. This has resulted in students suddenly discovering the concept of “professionalism” and accusing me of not having it. I wished them luck again and erased the information on the board.

The problem is, as I’ve explained before, we (the foreign staff) teach a class that’s an elective that everyone has to take. Because it’s an elective, it has different rules than regular classes. For the past few years our classes have been a percentage of the regular English class mark, but that’s been a mixed blessing. This is a huge improvement over the old system, where we had a grade system where the lowest grade possible was a “C”.

On the one hand the new system makes us more legit than we used to be because we are part of their official English mark; on the other hand, we are still a class that, to the students, is not real English because we don’t give grades. On the third hand (no, really, count them) students, whatever they do or don’t do, are not going to fail. The worst that can happen is they don’t get automatic acceptance into the high school.

Some students worry though, and they’re the ones being punished by me wishing them good luck instead of explaining the exam.


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