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Test with a red "F" written over it

Can you imagine being in a class where teachers actually intended to fail a certain number of students? This is actually pretty common, and it’s hurting not only the students, but also the programs they’re enrolled in.

“Weed-out” classes are especially difficult college courses, typically within the STEM sector (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), that are theoretically supposed to ensure that only the absolute best students get into the field. These classes are known for grade curves, rigorous tests and lack of faculty involvement. Normally you would expect teachers to do everything they can to build their students up and help them succeed, but in this case, they drop them in deep water and leave them to either sink or swim. This is a problem for more than just the obvious reasons.

The obvious issue with this is that it’s unfair to the students. Students pay teachers to teach them and help them get a better grasp of what they don’t understand, not to work against them or try to weed them out for not grasping these subjects. It’s also not at all pleasant for students to have their goals and aspirations ruined by those who ought to be supporting them. Imagine how frustrating it must be to strive to do something and be “weeded out” for not being good enough.

A seemingly overlooked issue is the negative effect that weed-out classes might have on the STEM sector itself. According to this article, weed-out classes are part of the reason why nearly half of all STEM students switch majors. At a time when we have a shortage of STEM professionals, cutting down the number of new students making it into the field (or even trying to do so) is a bad idea.

A teacher’s job is to educate his students and help them succeed. When he starts doing the opposite, you know something’s not right.