This is one of my favorite scenes in the movie Office Space. The main character Peter has been hypnotized and realizes that his office and his job has been the main cause of his depression and he decides he is just not going to do it anymore.
I don’t know why this was in my head today but I suspect it was because I was overhearing a lot of student conversations. The semester is wrapping up and many students are frustrated with their grades… mostly about other classes. The biggest complaint seems to be how difficult it is recover from even a single bad grade. It made me think of my own Peter moment.
A few years ago, in the middle of yet another discussion about what our late penalties should be, I decided I don’t like this and I’m not gonna do this any more.
Zero’s suck. In a weighted category system it is damn near impossible to pull a grade up from a zero. A stiff late penalty can be just as bad. Imagine completing an assignment that is worth a 95% but only getting a 65% because it was three days late! Last year I was a day late getting some paperwork done for my teaching licence (it was a school deadline not legal one). I ran to my Principal who just asked me to get it done by the end of the day. (no penalty) I forgot to pay my electric bill a few months ago and sent in the payment a week late. (no penalty). I forgot about my wife’s birthday. (Just kidding, I didn’t forget that. There would be a penalty).
The argument for late penalties I have heard is that they are important because we need to teach ‘responsibility” for the real world. I don’t buy into that. Grades should be about conveying a student’s progress in the content and skills. Whether the work is done on September 1st or 31st the student has demonstrated their skills. Why punish their grade?
So I was tired of late penalties and decided I’m just gonna stop. Like Peter I didn’t really think about the consequences of this decision. I didn’t publicize my decision. I just changed my policy. Maybe this wasn’t fair to the other teachers. In fact I bet its annoying at best. Normally this is where I would go into a big tangent about the game inspiration behind this decision – not this time. Let’s Hashtag this baby.
What is your “I’m not gonna do it anymore” idea? What is something that in the classroom that you just can’t stand and want to change? Think big. What is your moonshot idea? How might you go about doing it?
I am SUPER interested in hearing your big ideas! Go to Twitter and Tag me (@MrPowley) with your #OfficeSpaceEd idea!