I am not one of those people who claim to be an expert on everything. Really, I'm not. In fact, I'll readily admit to my incompetence in most aspects of this world. But, there are a few areas where I truly am able. In fact, I would dare say able beyond average. So, when I am challenged in one of these areas, my usually calm, non-confrontational self sometimes feels a little riled. Because I am right and sometimes I get to be right.
This all happened on Friday night. As I have mentioned before, I work at a very small college. About once a quarter, we meet together as a faculty in one of the classrooms and go through some training with a lot of open discussion in an effort to glean ideas from each other and be the best faculty we can for our students. The focus of our training this time around was the "invitational classroom". This opened up a debate about justice vs. mercy in the classroom. One of the more vocal teachers announced that he felt there should be a school-wide policy regarding late work. In his own classroom, he has a zero tolerance policy and will not accept anything late no matter who dies or has a baby. His argument being that by accepting late work that we are enabling our students to be irresponsible and are not preparing them for "the real world."
I don't buy it. I've been teaching for a long time. And I dare say that I am a good teacher for at least a majority of the students who enter my classroom. I do accept late work. In fact if a student seems to be falling behind, rather than berate them, I usually ask to meet with them to catch them up. Because, the truth of the matter is, if I don't, they aren't going to be more responsible or be more ready for "the real world", they are just going to have one more reason to give up on school and one more life frustration and I don't want to be the source of anyone's life frustration.
And, now, just a word or two on the whole "real world" comment. The real world is a whole lot more forgiving than I think we give it credit for. I make mistakes every day and I depend on the mercy of those in my life. If my husband had a zero tolerance policy towards all of the things that I do that drive him crazy (and not in a good way), our marriage never would have lasted this long. I've also made plenty of mistakes through the years at my various jobs and not once have I been fired. This world is set up for humans - the unperfect.
So, I don't believe in it. I don't think it is good. I don't think it is the pathway to a world of responsible adults. No. Not at all.