Twitter is a funny place. The character limitation — which started out as a mobile text message limitation (back when T9 was a thing, no phone had a keyboard, and writing more than 140 characters was both a functional limitation and an exhausting exercise) — is now this arbitrary cap that forces brevity while it tempts misunderstanding. It’s the latter I reference today.
I think a lot about my digital footprint. I don’t want my missives to be mistaken for board gospel, and have a strong belief that teaching is a profession, not a job, and that my contributions both during school hours and off, in a public space like Twitter, need to be appropriate. This causes constant pause when hitting the “post” button. I balance that with the desire to be somewhat thought-provoking. It’s a fine, gray line.
This morning I saw this tweet.
Students at Northlea Public School protesting the withdrawal of report cards @ETFOpresident #etfo #studentrights pic.twitter.com/eFnoHttG0m
— Peter Baugh (@PWBaugh) June 11, 2015
The fact that the students are making their voice heard is awesome. The lessons they will learn about raising their voices, with the potential to enact change, are incredibly important. I don’t want to diminish that effort, that stance, and that call to action in the slightest (see what just took an entire paragraph to express? A thought I had been forced to communicate in five words).
My comment on Twitter:
Not to diminish the protest, but haven't we failed when students believe a mark is the only reason to attend school https://t.co/9GUfDdVbvt
— Jared Bennett (@mrjarbenne) June 11, 2015
was directed squarely at the writing on the sign the girl on the right is holding:
What’s the point of coming to School?
My hope for education is that a mark on a report card is not the only reason to come to school. I took the sign to mean: “if you aren’t going to give me a report card, why would I attend”.
My hope is that the reason to attend school is for the learning that happens, about the growth, the connections, and the opportunities to discover one’s passion. The report card is this small thing we do at the end, which hopefully communicates no surprises. (The arbitrary nature of representing learning with a number is an entirely separate post. One I don’t have to write because Joe Bower covers the subject with a deft hand).
This can sometimes seem like a rose-coloured-glasses view. The entire institution right up through post-secondary feeds the concept that a good mark is the ticket to success, and can sometimes feed the idea that school is this thing you do in order to be allowed to do something else later on (a job). School shouldn’t be a hoop you jump through. It should have enormous value beyond the mark that will ensure entrance into a chosen program.
This was the comment I was trying to make. One that goes far beyond the student protest, or the work-to-rule in Ontario that currently has teachers submitting a mark with no comment on the final report card. I don’t question the importance of comments on report cards, but that’s another post entirely: