When asked to vote on an amendment that involves a tax increase, I go to our future voters to get their opinion. When I engage students in a discussion about taxation (investment, as it now is described), the views almost always are in support of helping others — a worthy responsibility of our government.
Sounds good, I tell them, so to help others, I am going to do the following:
From this point forward, I will invest some of the points of students who have an A grade and spread those points around to students who have lower grades so that everyone can receive a better grade. Students who have earned an A still will have an A, but some of their points will be invested in other students.
Sounds like a worthy endeavor until I have to try and calm the class down to stop the shouting. I defend my actions as one who simply is trying to help others. “Are you kidding me, I earn 96 points, I want 96 points,” shouts one of my students. But I explain that they still will have an A, it’s just a lower A and they will help others pass the class.
Isn’t it a good thing to help others?
“But coach, that’s not fair, I worked hard to earn 96 out of 100, and I should be able to keep my points.” I respond, “Ninety-six or 90, what does it matter? It’s just six points, and you are helping other students succeed — doesn’t it make you feel good?”
Another student asks, “Why do I have to give up my points, I worked hard for my grade and you give my points to a student who didn’t do anything to earn them?” My response simply is to repeat their positive views about helping others at the beginning of our discussion.
Replace money with grades in a discussion about taxes, and students definitely get engaged in learning!
At least that’s what I think.