Re: Could a child fail a grading?
There is a marketing axiom that states if you price a product, you are also stating the value of the product. From this logic, something that has no price has no value.
I think a real issue we face with ranking is that we work hard to downplay its importance. Then we scratch our heads when fewer students "care" about ranking. Why should they? We set the price very low, we should expect the new generation students value ranking very low.
That said, I advocate:
1. There is importance to ranking and testing is part of the rank process. Develop a spectrum of responsibilities and prestige that accompanies rank. Put a price tag on it and give it a value.
2. Differentiate the pre-requisites of ascending in rank with the test itself. Time on the mat, dues, seminars. All of these things should be required before consideration for rank.
3. Test to discomfort. Candidates should be able to show a positive experience that demonstrates their competency. That competency should be challenged beyond comfort.
#2 is about setting expectations with the candidates. Yes, I believe if someone is slacking, the conversation goes something like, "Gee Billy, you have the mat time and I know that you meet the requirements to test. But, I notice that you're not focusing in class. This is important because if you lose focus on the mat, you could injure someone or be injured yourself. I don't feel comfortable yet testing you for your next belt. So I'll make a deal with you; show me some focus and concentration this month. I want to see improvement in this area. Show me this is important to you and you're willing to step up and we'll talk again about your test opportunity."
I am not a big fan of testing with failure. Failure should only happen if the candidate breaks down (illness, injury, insecurity, incompetence). If there is question about the expectation of performance, I would chalk that up as "not yet ready". I personally most enjoy the tests where the candidate looks good, gets frustrated, recovers and the uke panel looks excited for the candidate. They were the ones who touched the candidate and can feel the "vibe". I do not like the train wreck where everyone simply waits for it to be over.