QUESTION: You have said that the natural progression of a marriage is to become more distant rather than more intimate. Why is that true?DR. DOBSON: The natural tendency of everything in the universe is to move from order to disorder. If you buy a new car, it will steadily deteriorate from the day you drive it home. Your body is slowly aging and dying. Your house has to be repainted and repaired every few summers. A business that is not managed carefully will unravel and collapse. A brick that is placed on a vacant lot and left there long enough will eventually turn to dust. Indeed, even the sun and all the stars are slowly burning themselves out. We are, in a manner of speaking, in a dying universe where everything that is not specifically being protected and upgraded is in a downward spiral.

The principle which governs this drift from order to disorder might be called "the law of disintegration." (Engineers and scientists sometimes call it the law of "entropy.") The only way to postpone or temporarily combat its influence is to invest creative energy and intelligent design into that which is to be preserved.

Not so surprisingly, human relationships also conform to the principle of disintegration. The natural tendency is for husbands and wives to drift away from each other unless they work at staying together. To provide another analogy, it is as though they were sitting in separate row-boats on a choppy lake. If they don't paddle vigorously to stay in the same neighborhood, one will drift to the north of the lake and the other to the south. That is exactly what happens when marital partners get too busy or distracted to maintain their love. If they don't take the time for romantic activities and experiences that draw them together, something precious begins to slip away. It doesn't have to be that way, of course, but the currents of life will separate them unless efforts are made to remain together.

I wish every newly married couple knew about the law of disintegration and would actively protect their relationship from it.

QUESTION: Some educators have said we should eliminate report cards and academic marks. Do you think this is a good idea?

DR. DOBSON: No, I believe academic marks are valuable for students in the third grade or higher. They reinforce and reward the child who has achieved in school and as a nudge to the youngster who hasn't. It is important, though, that grades be used properly. They have the power to create or to destroy motivation.

Through the elementary years, I've always felt that a child's grades should be based on what he does with what he has. In other words, I think we should grade according to ability. A slow child should be able to succeed in school just as certainly as a gifted youngster. If he struggles and sweats to achieve, he should somehow be rewarded - even if his work falls short of an absolute standard. By the same token, gifted children should not be given A's just because they are smart enough to excel without working.

Again, the primary purpose in grading in the elementary school years should be to reward academic effort.

However, as the student goes into high school, the purpose of grading shifts. Those who take college preparatory courses must be graded on an absolute standard. An "A" in chemistry or calculus is accepted by college admission boards as a symbol of excellence, and secondary teachers must preserve that meaning. Students with lesser academic skill need not take those difficult courses.

To repeat, marks for children can be the teacher's most important motivational tool, provided they are used correctly. Therefore, the recommendation that schools eliminate grading is a move away from discipline in the classroom.

comments powered by Disqus