“I knew it was going to be a lot of stress,” he says. “But I just couldn’t talk myself out of it. It was the right thing to do.”What he did, over the past 18 months, was what he had done for over three decades when a student didn’t submit an assignment, skipped a test or missed an exam: he pulled out his red marking pen and gave them a zero. It was a lesson in consequences, one contrary to the school’s no-zero policy, an official dictum Mr. Dorval willfully ignored. After repeated warnings from the principal to toe the line, the renegade was hauled before a school board hearing. Three days later, on May 18, he received a letter informing him he had been suspended indefinitely. He suffered the consequences.Mr. Dorval refused to accept the school's policy that a student's self-esteem is more important than actual performance. In that case, why give grades at all? Surely a mark of D would be bruising to the tender egos of someone taking a class with a fellow student who got an A? Why hand in ANY assignments if there are no consequences for not doing so? When I was in University back in the early 1980s, I was in a program that declined to give us actual grades - we were all assigned one of two marks for each assignment: Complete or Incomplete. This was after I had already spent four years in a rigorous honours degree program in science. It didn't take any of us long to figure out that there was no reward for excelling in anything that had to be handed in to the professors, so we carefully figured out the minimum amount of work required to achieve a Complete and dutifully handed in assignment after assignment of mediocre but acceptable quality. Why do otherwise? It was embarrassing to be part of this system, but it was necessary for the career path I had chosen, so I put up, shut up and got the hell through it as quickly as possible. This is the system in the schools of Edmonton that Mr. Dorval has decided he can't be part of any longer:
It is Newton’s Law: for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. Unless, of course, you are a student at Ross Sheppard high or some other institution where every missed assignment is met with an excuse. And not from the kids, but from an apologist administration that encourages serial irresponsibility by offering second, third, fourth — and 10th chances — but not zeroes, never a zero. Lynden Dorval knew it was wrong. He had had enough. So he picked up his red marking pen and stayed true to his conscience. It is a choice, he says, he would make again.Bravo, Mr. Dorval. I salute you.