by Bekah Ervin
As a private college student in a state with one of the lowest public education systems, I have had public education on my mind pretty frequently. Recently, I saw a photo on Facebook that said something along the lines of “I am a teacher and I don’t offer extra credit. Do the work on time when it is assigned and you won’t need extra credit”. This struck me pretty hard because, even thought I was an A/B student in high school, I needed extra credit just as much as the student that “didn’t do their work” (which is another topic that requires a different article, honestly). Allow me to explain why I am in favor of extra credit, high school and college alike (speaking from my own experience):
I am a good student. I do my work. I study for many hours a day. I have always tried as hard as I could in school because it has been important to me for as long as I can remember. I continue to try as hard as I can because it is still the most important part of my life. Education is everything.
In high school, many of my teachers included a statement such as this in their syllabi: “I do not offer extra credit under any circumstances”. For someone who has Attention Deficit Disorder tendencies and an incredible amount of anxiety, I have always had trouble keeping my grades as high as I could. My tests were (and continue to be) my lowest grades because of these mental issues. When these disorders would affect my grades and there was no way to bring the grade up, I would be entirely discouraged. Even with some homework or in-class assignments, I struggled. Group work was difficult as well because my anxiety went through the roof. When there is no way for a student to improve a grade, there is no way a student can succeed in the current A-F grading system. Even during my time at Millsaps so far, any possible extra credit offered has been so helpful in maintaining a grade that genu
inely reflects the extensive work and energy I put into my classes.
One of the worst things a teacher can do is to discourage their student. A student’s personal issues can often influence their school work. Whether it is family issues, mental disorders or physical health problems, teachers and school systems must accommodate for all students. An environment that encourages excellence, but does not allow mistakes is not one that promotes genuine learning.