Every year I find students who, objectively, don't have a chance in heck to pass the class:
- Riding Rita fell from a horse not wearing a hat.
- Dyslexic Diana is a fantastic Arts major but can barely read English, never mind French.
- Dumbass David is just dumb.
- Veteran Vincent got shellshocked in Iraq.
- Pregnant Peggy just has too much on her plate.
- Flabbergasted Felipe is a star in the chemistry department, but the language barrier is too much for him.
All of them are good, if not bright, kids. They are often close to graduation, with majors that have nothing to do with French, but they'll never make it there unless they pass my class. And/or, even worse, if they fail I'll meet them there next year, like old leftovers at the back of the refrigerator, hopelessly struggling to pass my class.
So I offer them a deal. They'll attend class and do their very best, I will tutor them for one-two hours a week in my own time -- sometimes Sundays, in a cafe -- and, even if I don't say it in so many words, they'll get at least a C-, regardless of their final performance.
I feel basically good about this. Yet, on the other hand, there are in my classes some morons (hi Tonto Tim) who will not pass the class because they are too lazy to crack the book open. I don't offer them any kind of deal, but rather enjoy giving them a well-deserved F.
They are not likely to learn about the special treatment I am giving to the others but, if they did, they could accuse me of unfairness.
So, question, where do you draw the line between fairness and common human decency when it comes to grades?
Le French Professeur