by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
November 26, 2005
JUST DUMB, OR JUST 'DEFERRED'?
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- I just now heard about CNN blinking a big fat X over Vice President Dick Cheney's face as he was making a speech last week. Truth to tell, I thought some of the technicians were playing "Spot the Liar." But there's a lot of good column ideas I never hear about.
Like, last July a teacher in England started talking about talking about using the words "deferred success" instead of "failure." I found out about it last week, so I guess I made a "deferred discovery."
According to the BBC, Liz Beattie didn't want students to fail their exams but have a "deferred success" instead. British parents would then give their children a "deferred spanking" until they do better.
Beattie created the proposal because she believed that repeated failure could shatter a student's enthusiasm for school. "For most of my teaching career I have been upset by seeing some children give up on themselves," she told the British Professional Association of Teachers.
She probably didn't realize that it's the mind-numbing boredom ("deferred excitement") that wrecks a kid's enthusiasm for school. Failure is just a distraction from the tedium.
"I think we all need to succeed at something. You need encouragement rather than being told you haven't done very well," she told The Times of London Newspaper ("deferred bird cage liner").
However, most members of the BPAT who heard the idea thought it was pretty stupid ("deferred intelligent").
You could argue that students who repeatedly failed their exams actually don't have success issues. Rather, their teachers just aren't that good ("deferred competent"). As the United State's No Child Left Behind plan ("deferred effective") has reminded us, repeated or constant failure doesn't always lie with the students ("deferred felons"). Sometimes it's the fault of the teachers.
Maybe Ms. Beattie should have focused more on teachers' competencies than the words used to show a student was not able to pass an exam or two. Or five.
But you do have to appreciate her commitment. "What happens when an exam is failed but, for example, three-quarters of it is perfectly satisfactorily done?" she said in an interview on BBC Radio Four ("deferred static").
Well, three-quarters is 75%, which is a solid C in the American ("deferred Canadian") grading system. So I don't know if I would even start to call that a failure.
However, she did have a few allies ("deferred laughing stock") to her cause. Wesley Paxton, a member of the BPAT's council supported Beattie. "Elsewhere we applaud those who persevere, like marathon contestants who take days to complete. It's time we made the word 'fail' redundant and replaced it with 'please do a bit more.'" he told BBC Four.
Unfortunately, it's the "please do a bit more" that would have most marathoners stampeding Paxton like a herd of enraged bulls.
Luckily, Beattie's motion lost ("deferred won") later that summer ("deferred winter"). This may be partly attributed to British Education Secretary Ruth Kelly, who told BBC Radio Four, "For that particular proposal, I think I might give them nought out of ten ("deferred dope slap")."
The BPAT voted, the motion failed, and the British educational system dodged a serious PC bullet ("deferred the inevitable").
"It's really important for young people to grow up with the ability to get on and achieve, but also to find out what failure is," Kelly said. "When young people grow up and enter the adult world, they have to deal with success and failure."
So, at least for the next few years, British ("deferred French") students will be able to pass and/or fail their exams at their convenience. At least until another British teacher ("deferred principal") comes up with another idea that gives me fodder for another column ("deferred novel").