The Jericho Addiction: A Personal Commentary


Originally published June 2013

Much like my peers, I am an addict. And like addicts, at certain times our pupils dilate, our armpits become enamored with sweat, and there is always that one kid who passes out. To what addiction am I referring? Extra credit.

There are two breeds of students who look to receive extra credit. The first breed are the A+ students who actually believe they’re averaging a D-. I have not yet figured out if this type of student is aware that they don’t need the extra credit, but if they do I strongly advise them to consult our school psychiatrist. On the other side of the spectrum are the students who are legitimately averaging a D-. They tend to think that an extra credit assignment as simple as filling out a worksheet should quantify for a B forimage004[2] the quarter.

Are we cheating the system to inflate grades for students? Regardless of the morals of extra credit, I am fascinated by student reactions to the term. Dating back to seventh grade, during nearly every exam I took there was always that one child who asked, “Is there extra credit on the test?” Since then I always find myself asking, does it really matter? Do students really need that extra three points on that exam?

Students are very vulnerable to the phrase “extra credit.” Does this enable teachers to prey on the weakness of the youth and use extra credit as a way to keep classes in line or threaten the removal of extra credit to keep classes in check.

Ask yourself, how can something extra, or optional, be used as a threat? To take something away that shouldn’t be there is a pretty backwards concept. Theoretically, extra credit can be used to pass students who are failing. In fact, that’s just what it does in some cases.  Similarly to a heroin dealer, the teachers rely on the vulnerability of their target audience. I can’t think of a group more prone to deception than a bunch of students listening to their teachers’ instructions. The teachers feed the students’ habits, and it must end. The process will not be easy. I will do anything to bump a line of extra credit. Whatever it takes, I will get my fix. Teachers, it is your move to curtail our addiction.

But don’t take it from me, take it from SpongeBob:

Spongebob: But Mrs. Puff, I don’t feel like I  really did anything.

Mrs. Puff: That’s how extra credit is supposed to feel!

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