• Write an essay in which you argue against Sherry's thesis. In what ways is flunking bad for students? Are there techniques more positive than a "fear of failure" that can be used to motivate students? The Bad Side of Flunking The issue of students who graduate from high school without acquiring the basic knowledge required by the course has created a debate concerning what teachers should do in order to improve the students’ academic skills. One of the techniques used by teachers is what Mary Sherry suggests in her essay “In Praise of the F Word”: flunking students is an effective way of motivating them to study and pass their courses. However, flunking does not always ensure motivation; or what is worse, flunking can also have adverse consequences for the students’ process of learning. According to Sherry, the “fear of failure” can motivate students. While it is true that students may see failure as a threat, so they try to pass their courses, it is also true that fear only makes students reach the grade they need to complete the course. They are not interested in passing the course for the sake of learning; they just want to pass it, no matter how much they have learned. Besides, a negative feeling like fear can never achieve good results in the process of learning. If fear is not considered to be good for most aspects of life such as job interviews or business meetings in which you have to relax in order to speak fluently and be confident about yourself, the world of education is not an exception, and fear will only have negative consequences for students. Since it implies a great effort to improve students’ performance, some teachers believe that the best option is to retain low-achieving students so that they can master the skills needed to move up to a higher level. As regards this issue, Ernest R. House, Professor of education at the University of Colorado in Boulder, maintains that “flunking and retaining students does not improve their academic performance and can even be harmful.” This is not difficult to believe since one of the main consequences is that when students fail at school their self-esteem is damaged; therefore students who do not have a positive self-image cannot learn or develop properly. Another consequence is that flunking prevents students from moving with their age group; so these students do not learn social and academic skills from their peers. Many students, then, end up dropping out their courses. Of course, these consequences do not mean that teachers should pass students without making sure that those students have acquired the basic skills to pass the course. What teachers should do is to find ways of transmitting students the significance of their studies, especially for their future careers. In this repect, Ernest House says that more effective ways of promoting academic achievement include identifying potential problems early on and intervening when students are very young. This can be a good option to start changing students’ behaviour towards education so that in a non-distance future they can take charge of their own learning. Comment [G1]: Word form Though flunking is a frequent way taken by teachers, it is not a positive way of motivating students. On the contrary, flunking makes students’ performance even worse. By experiencing fear, students only perceive the wrong idea of what high school aims at; instead of seeing it as a place where they can learn the necessary tools for their future careers, they just want to pass as if the course would be an obstacle they must overcome. Teachers should avoid this kind of students’attitudes and try to teach why it is so important that students take advantage of their studies. Comment [G2]: This is not a conclusion. This paragraph is a repetition of what was said before. Andrea Vila.
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