October 6, 2007

Rules of the game

It is hard to figure out the rules of the game here. Italians are much more flexible than we are in accepting odd rules (odd to us at least) without questioning why. Well, they learn this skill at school.

Today my son got back an Italian test. Grading runs from 1-10 with a 10 being an A+ anything below a 6, a failing grade. While handing back the test the teacher said that the highest grade on this particular test(for a perfect job)was a 7.5 which means that that no one could receive an "A". Why? Because, "It is too early in the year and we haven't covered enough material for this test to merit a full-value."

Does this hit you as being strange? and arbitrary?

Tests are often given (at my son's liceo in any case) on this sliding value scale. Sometimes a test is worth a full "10" value and other times (if it is an easier exercise) only a "7". The first time my son came home with a 7 on an English test, I asked, "What did you get wrong?" "Nothing" was the answer. A "B" was the highest grade for a perfect score.

Along with Dante and algorithms, he is learning cultural skills that will serve him well in this world: tolerance of ambiguity and how to navigate among uncertain rules.

a domani,


Deirdré living in Italy said...

This and your previous post point up some of the reasons I'm glad my daughter's finally out of the Italian system. The sheer arbitrariness, the obvious desire by some teachers to exercise capricious, punitive "authority", the total expectation and tolerance of cheating, the inability to deal with any human learning style other than the "traditional"... gah!

Elizabeth said...

Sorry so late in responding...
In the car the other evening I overheard a friend of my son tell about his written driving test. Since he had attended the classes, his teacher (who was a good friend of the test giver) basically stood by his side and pointed to the answers on his test!