Tuesday, November 11, 2014

What I would write in the Permanent Record

A Permanent Record! That's what I need--for my students.

Remember back in elementary school when teachers threatened that if you misbehaved you'd earn a black mark in your Permanent Record? I pictured horrified teachers and principals hovering over a manila folder in which was written, in bleeding red ink, "Runs with scissors!" The fear of earning a permanent blot on the Permanent Record discouraged many a schoolchild from committing acts of mayhem.

Why don't college students have a Permanent Record? Of course we keep records on their academic progress and infractions of the student code, but those records are scattered amongst various offices and collect only limited types of data--and, moreover, those records are hardly permanent. I'd like a Permanent Record that haunts a student forever. 

Picture this: the student has applied for his dream job, the job that would make his heart sing, his bank account burgeon, and his student loans vanish overnight, and he's reached the final stage in the screening process when the interviewer says, "Let's take a look at your Permanent Record. Hmm....it says here you're an expert at manipulating other students to do the lion's share in group work but that you always manage to take the credit. Just the person we need in this office! Welcome, brother!"

Okay, that didn't go the way I'd expected. What if potential girlfriends could check a guy's Permanent Record before agreeing to take the relationship to the next level? "It says here that you're an arrogant prick. No news to me. Your place or mine?"

Again, not the result I was looking for. Suppose our student is in the final stages of applying for a mortgage for his first house but before he can sign on the dotted line, the loan officer checks his Permanent Record: "I see that you generally perform the minimal amount of work necessary to earn a passing grade, turning assignments in at the last possible moment and barely squeaking through difficult classes. Sounds like a guy who can get his mortgage payments in on time! We're good to go!"

Well, okay, but eventually this slacker will end up at the Pearly Gates and Saint Peter will gaze down at his Permanent Record and say, "I see that you once admitted to your academic advisor that it didn't matter what classes you took as long as you remained eligible for financial aid." And then Peter will sigh, rub his forehead, and say, "I'm sorry, but rules are rules. I don't want to let you through the gates, but you've earned just enough heavenly credits to remain eligible, so in you go!"

Maybe a Permanent Record isn't such a great idea after all.     

No comments: