SAFS and other responses to the sacrifice of Capt. Zero for nothing

September 2012

The story of the Edmonton high school teacher who was disciplined for refusing to give marks to students who did not turn in assignments is another glaring example of how merit is being subverted as a principle for rewarding academic performance. The school’s dictum means that students will be graded only for work they turn in, with no penalty given for work they avoid, thereby inflating the marks of these students. As an organization of largely Canadian professors, we do not look forward to the day that these intellectually disengaged students enter our universities, having been taught they deserve good marks even for subpar course work. The school’s principal and board have failed their own students. This counterproductive policy should be repealed at once.

Clive Seligman, president, Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship, London, ON.

Congratulations to Edmonton teacher Lynden Dorval, and a pox on the administrators in his school. Mr. Dorval has taken a sensible approach toward his role in education, and no student will suffer from his action. The same can not be said for those who are handed an un-earned diploma, a lesson they will surely learn to their disappointment later in life. Mr. Dorval can always make a dollar or two as a tutor on “civvy street.”

Good on you, Sir.

Doug Stallard, New Glasgow, N.S.

The zero should be for Ross Sheppard High School in Edmonton for promoting irresponsibility. I wish more teachers were like Mr. Dorval.

Nancy Vella, Abbotsford, B.C.

I spent two wonderful years in Grade 9 in Newmarket High School back in the mid-’60s. At some point in the midst of my second attempt, I decided that I would never fail at school again. In time I gained a graduate degree with almost all A’s.

I have often reflected on and blessed the discipline levied back then — it was one of the most important lessons I ever learned. I am very thankful I was educated in a system that had the internal fortitude and backbone to prepare me for the realities I would face.

David Brandon, Aurora, Ont.

Students at Ross Sheppard High School in Edmonton can skip assignments and tests without being penalized, as “zeros may not be given” is school policy. This example of “no consequences” for shirking work and dodging responsibility does not prepare youngsters for the real world.

And the “real world” begins at university. I am confident that the University of Alberta is more than ready to give zeros for work not done, and I can tell you for sure that at McGill University we give zeros for work not done.

Why does Ross Sheppard High School encourage bad work habits?

Philip Carl Salzman, professor of anthropology, McGill University, Montreal.

National Post, June 2, 2012.