Wyatt is winding up a semester at school this week. I can (and regularly do) check his progress online. He knows this. We talk about how things are going.
So when I saw the D+ I was a little surprised.
He'd written an essay - a comparison paper - based on the two "books" they've read in English class. And I use the term "books" rather loosely as the first, while it is a chapter book, is labeled 4.0 (which means the text could be read independently by the average student beginning fourth grade), and the second was a comic book (3.3 - third grade, third month).
To be fair, there are some wonderful books written at that level. C.S. Lewis' Narnia series comes to mind, or the Redwall books. Writing that draws you in through wonderful story-telling and vivid description. Themes that encourage you to be better, or that challenge your thinking. Not so these books. Blech. Playground vernacular at best. And it's not as if the subject matter corresponds to the reading level (violence, profanity, racism, masturbation, alcoholism, etc.) either. Yikes.
So Wyatt wrote his paper. I proof-read it and helped him type it up. I might've given it a C, really, because I thought he missed the larger themes... but I'm an adult, and I can't expect him to see what I see. Still, the D surprised me, even with the +.
His English teacher has a policy that (if they're meeting deadlines) students can revise their work to get it up to the grade they want, so I "encouraged" Wyatt to have another try at it. I figured his teacher would've given him some helpful comments, some constructive criticism on his writing.
And you know what it was? He needed a better topic sentence for one of his paragraphs, and all the rest was formatting. Indent here, not there. Too many spaces here, too few there. Etc.
And that raised his grade to an A.
I'm not arguing with the value of following instructions. If the teacher wants your paper formatted a certain way, you do it. No question. Get with the program.
But what value does his writing have?
The teacher left NO comments on the content of his paper, or the thought he put into it, to praise or to point out problems. No challenge to think more deeply. No encouragement to articulate his thoughts better. Nothing.