Faith · teaching

Everything Counts

Someone, somewhere, started perpetuating the lie that there are no stupid questions. I’m not sure who this person was or why they thought it necessary to make that statement, but they were wrong. Here are a few questions that drive most educators crazy:

“Did I miss anything while I was out last week?” – Nope, we went ahead and stopped learning because you weren’t here. 

Similarly, “are we going to do anything today in class?” I figured we would just stare blankly at each other for 90 minutes and waste everyone’s time.

“What score do I need on the test to get a B in the class?” I have no idea. Grades are categorized with different weights and then averaged together to based on the number of assignments in each category and the score made on each assignment. There are so many factors that contribute to a final grade. The only way I can answer this question is to enter a variety of grades into the grade book and see which one results in you getting a B. And I’d rather not spend my time doing that.

“I know I didn’t do several assignments, but I really need a good grade in this class. Can I do extra credit?” No, extra credit is just that – extra. You can’t skip the regular assignments and then get something extra. Simply put, that is unfair to all the students who completed the assignments throughout the course.

Lastly, and the one I may dislike the most, “Is this going to count for a grade?” Well — now it is. 

This question bothers me so much because there is value in an assignment even if you do not get a “grade” on it. Teachers understand the necessity of practice with the freedom to make mistakes. It isn’t that this practice “doesn’t count”; such practices contribute to your overall understanding and retention of the material. I hate when I’m forced to give a numeric value to something that was meant to do more than just help a student’s grade. But students often have the mentality that if it doesn’t have a number attached to it, it doesn’t count for them.

This is a universal issue, though. Not necessarily the expectation of everything being graded, but the idea that certain things count and other things don’t. We tend to believe that the things that “count” are the things that have immediate and significant impacts. If I don’t see the immediate result, it must not have “counted” for anything.

That spontaneous purchase (that I didn’t really need and spent too much on) didn’t really affect my finances today, so it must be okay. But what about two months from now when I need some extra savings for an emergency?

Wasting time at work doesn’t seem like a big deal today, because there’s not that much on my to-do list. But what about a week from now, when I’ve let a bunch of little things stack up and now am far behind and stressed out?

Letting healthy lifestyle habits slip away on this one occasion, and then that one occasion,  and then that one more occasion, seem small. But eventually, we have poor lifestyle habits instead of healthy ones.

The fact is, there aren’t any consequence-free choices. Everything counts. In some way, at some time, today’s choices will matter and make a difference. I’ve been convicted about this a lot lately. I am so good at convincing myself that this one act of indulgence, this one act of negligence, this one act of procrastination won’t really matter. It always does, though. I set myself up for failure when I allow myself to think this one time, it won’t make a difference. I set myself up for failure when I choose to concern myself with what is observable right here and now, rather than concerning myself with what matters for the future. With what matters for eternity.

As I continue to embrace my 2020 word, “Free,” I continue to realize that freedom involves choices and consequences. I want to be “free” from making choices based on instant gratification because then I will be “free” to base my choices on eternity instead.

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