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    • These students are Year 13 in the New Zealand education system, I'm not sure how that translates to other systems but the students are about 17 years old.

      Year 13 students are worried they might fail their history exam because they didn't know what the word "trivial" meant. 
      ...
      Students sitting the NZQA Level 3 History causes and consequences paper on Wednesday were confronted with the word in a quote from Julius Caesar: "Events of importance are the result of trivial causes."

      Students were asked to analyse the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with Caesar, with reference to the causes and consequences of a historical event. 
      ...
      A spokeswoman for NZQA said the language used in the question "was expected to be within the range of vocabulary for a NCEA Level 3 History student

    • Too many parents protecting their kids from failure. Too many teachers afraid to fail a kid. Too many school boards not allowing teachers to give a zero. Too many kids that don't develop resiliance as a result of this. A failing system. I'm a teacher and it's happening all over the place.

    • It's not just in NZ. My wife is a high school teacher in Croatia. She regularly has problems with kids coming in from elementary school where they both don't have the necessary knowledge (despite excellent grades all around) nor any way of coping with failure (after they inevitably start getting low grades for their poor performance).

      I think this a fairly recent but common phenomena in the developed nations.

    • As a teacher in Canada I find that parents keep over protecting their kids from failing and learning. Many kids also seem to be disinterested in putting in the effort needed to learn things that the curriculum says are important. Phones are competing for kids attention but I think that's more a symptom than a cause. I can't figure out what is really happening out there but I fear kids just aren't reaching the level of achievement they once aspired to.

    • I'm interested by the juxtaposition of excellent grades with inadequate knowledge. Parents don't want their kids to fail, but it sounds like teachers are in the same boat.

      Is that due to parent-pressure in large part?

      Pressure from the school system to pass kids?

      Less flexibility in how to teach the material so kids will internalize it?

      We homeschool and our math curriculum is mastery-based, so if my kids haven't mastered it they continue to work on it before moving on. We have that luxury of not comparing kids to a certain benchmark so they aren't "ahead" or "behind" they just are where they are and they work from there. That means I'm not motivated to rush them on before they've mastered something and it also means there's no stigma with taking longer to achieve mastery.

      It doesn't, however, free the kids of that tension that surrounds doing hard things and not being immediately great at them. I had a daughter sobbing over her math just this evening. There was no pressure from me (other than to complete it to the best of her abilities) but emotions ran high as she ran into her current limitations and needed to stretch a little further and persevere. It's a life lesson and it's uncomfortable.

    • I'm not sure what is the root cause, or if it is indeed a single root cause. Teachers not willing to put in the work, parents and schools pressuring them both surely play a part. The modern culture of 'everyone is special' and 'you can be anything you set your heart to' is also a factor.

      In fact, no, you generally can't become anything you want to. As (I believe) Chris Rock said: You can only become what you're good at, and what somebody will pay you to do, and even then, it helps to know the right people. That's the reality that many seem to ignore, but is still there, as they will inevitably find out, sooner or later.

    • Hmm, your comment about becoming whatever you want to become got me thinking.

      Maybe one of the root causes is entitlement? Kids think they are entitled to outcomes without requisite effort? In social media you often see the apparently perfect and epic result but rarely the mundane work that led to it.

      And one more thought: maybe we have become an outcome-oriented society at the expense of virtue and character. We get kids who expect certain results (grades) but they lack the depth of character required to persist and master a subject?

    You've been invited!