Thursday, February 24, 2011

What's it all for, really?

Coach Brown writes about a senior who said "You'd think that by now teachers would realize that giving seniors homework in the last quarter is pretty pointless and just a bad idea in general ... most of us already know what schools we're going to, and we no longer need to try to get the best grade possible. All you have to do is pass." Coach asks if the student is right.

Yes and No.

I disagree with what Utah is doing with the incentives to graduate early, I disagree with the students who take the senior year off and I disagree with the parents, schools and states who encourage either.

What is high school for, anyway? It's not for job training, although some kids get some of that from it. It's not for practical purposes, although some get that, too. It's not for babysitting or socialization or any of those things.

It's for the mind.

You may be stuck in a boring job but you learned about poetry from someone who thought it was cool and now you realize it really was - now it's your escape from the drudgery. Or maybe that science teacher turned you on to Biology and the processes and you went and became a brewmaster for Sam Adams.

The only way to deal with senioritis is to realize that, for once in the student's educational life, the scores don't matter but the class is still free. How liberating is that? Finally, you can take a course and learn strictly for the intellectual pleasure of it.

Why study Russian history? "ForDaHellofIt"
How about organic chemistry? "ForDaHellofIt"
AP Statistics with the boring teacher? Okay, that sucked but nothing ventured, nothing gained and nothing lost in the long run.

This is the ultimate in heads I win, tails I win.


  1. Wait a minute. Kids don't graduate until they finish their last course?

    That's like saying that a book isn't done until you finish it. Or a game doesn't end until the last out.

    Ridiculous. (and constantly reinforced by adults who tell kids it's ok)


  2. I like this post. I enjoy intellectual pursuits for the hell of it; I'd love to go to school for math and/or math teaching on the side for free forever if I can, and I think it's a shame that our kids don't see "free education" as a plus.

    I do think that teachers should adjust their lessons to be more fun in the last part of the senior year though. Igniting the kids' interest, now that there is no test or grade pressure.

  3. I have always liked school and the classroom setting. Instructors like me because I pay attention and ask the relevant questions that other won't ask.

    But I'll admit, I coasted in my last HS semester - took Surveying for 3 hours off-campus - and got my only "B" in high school (1974-1977). I probably did not deserve even that "B".

    And I have to say all those A's did not tell me where I really stood - they seemed not to correlate with performance or effort (nearly all classes were not that demanding).