Saturday, October 15, 2011

Negative Interaction

“What’s your name again?”

“Mr. Silva-Brown.  I teach Gov/Econ and AP Social Studies.”

“Oh right!  I’ve heard of you.”

“Which Government teacher do you have?”

“Oh I don’t have one.  I’m on Independent Study.”

“So….do you mind if I ask you how that’s working out?”

“Oh I love it!  I don’t have to wake up in the morning and everything!”

“That’s why you got on Independent Study?”

“Yeah.  I don’t do well waking up in the morning.  I mean, I get all cranky and stuff.  Plus I don’t focus because I’m on my phone all the time and I’m so into the social thing that school just doesn’t do it for me.”

“Oh.”

“I still come to my electives though.  I mean, I like those.  I don’t like regular classes so why show up?  So I’m more on a hybrid Independent Study.”

This was not how I wanted to end my week, and this conversation occurred thirteen hours into my work day and three hours before I would leave campus.  Even though I shouldn’t be bothered by this after eleven years, it still makes me bristle.  And it made the parent next to me also bristle, and while I didn’t say anything, the parent made a comment about whether or not the kid felt ready to enter the real world for a job.  The question was never answered.

To get into Independent Study a student needs a “legitimate” reason that goes through the counseling department and I believe might contain one administrator.  I can’t see the group simply giving away Independent Study for a “I can’t get up” excuse, so that leads me to the conclusion that the student or the parent or both lied.  And it is a scary thought to think that a parent would actually capitulate to social media and teenage hi-jinks instead of trying to prepare this kid to be successful in all of society.  What you enjoy in life is all that is worth doing; Homecoming, Shop, Arts, Theater, Choir, Band, Facebook, SMS, football games.  That other stuff that disciplines you for the future, you know, accountability, is crap.  This is the perverse nature of Independent Study, a program that I’ve lost about ten Seniors to this year. 

I have a solution for students that are in Independent Study, including those that are in the totally idiotic “hybrid” Independent Study.  Don’t give them a diploma.  Since the education they are getting in Independent Study is not even close to the education they can get by actually being at school, why present substandard students with a  full standard diploma?  Present them with a Certificate of Completion with a notation that the student did not fulfill their total educational requirements but will graduate at 18 because society allows it.  I think that’s a great idea.  Then I think employers in town should ask to see the diploma of a potential hire, because God knows that the last thing an employer needs is a person that can’t get to work or stay off their phone while on the job.  A real diploma means at the very least a student is disciplined enough to show up.

In the meantime as long as we have cop out programs like Independent Study, I’m pretty much going to ignore anyone putting the blame on classroom teachers for not providing a rigorous education.    

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