Friday, June 21, 2013


I am sitting at work today and receiving hourly text messages about my son's unexcused absences. Oops, he missed first period. Darn it, 2nd and 3rd he's nowhere to be found either! Truth be told, I stopped checking my phone, knowing that he wasn't running late. He was ditching.

In an unexpected turn of events, I gave him permission to ditch. My husband gave a very formal and clear commentary about his reservations, but ultimately agreed. Yes, son, you have our blessing to ignore the rules and go to the beach instead. The reason I caved so easily is simple. It's the end of the year and evidently instruction of any kind is no longer necessary. Our son has spent the last week watching movies in his classes. He finished his finals and brings a healthy pile of books to read, not Shakespeare or a literary classic, but World War Z or a David Sedaris collection.

When I was a kid...(can you just picture the eye rolling) we worked up until the last day, finishing off every possible workbook page, catching up on art activities or creative writing assignments. We did spend more time outside in recess and gym but I never once remember watching a movie, let alone in multiple classes. We set aside a part of each day in that last week to clean our classrooms. Monday might be the washing of all the desks, Tuesday return textbooks to storage, Wednesday thoroughly wash the boards and sweep the floor, Thursday remove all papers and projects from the classroom and take them home, Friday hang out and relax and see our teacher as a pretty nice person overall, while daydreaming about swimming and street carnivals. 

The last week of school, for me, was fun. We got to be more creative, more physical, and more interactive than we'd been allowed the whole rest of the year. We were excited for summer and for being done, and we were relieved to learn our subjects without a grade attached.  

Instead, my son's teachers are cleaning their classrooms by themselves. Since no more grades will be given there seems to be no need for learning.  Practicing what they've already learned and integrating it into their life when the standardized tests are completed, appears pointless. Why bother taking up frivolous pursuits like relay races, jam sessions, or fun trivia games?  Is it really possible that on a certain day in June, everything there is to know about creative writing, jazz, physics, or Spanish was mastered so fully that there was just nothing left to do?  Have we trained our kids to only want to learn if a grade, an assessment from outside of themselves is given? Yikes!  

When my son said he wanted to ditch his last day and go to the beach instead, I said "yes". For one, how could I not reward such an honest kid with such a great argument? Secondly, I figured a cardio workout on his bike coupled with an "in the field" exploration of the natural environs of the Great Lakes was more productive and educational. 

1 comment:

  1. Last week of school is never fun. I remember always being so bored. I think a "ditch day" that is allowed by your parents is an awesome thing.