It just occurred to me that I went the entire day yesterday without a single adult conversation until I got home. That’s close to 10 hours without a conversation about politics, gas prices, good places to visit on a budget or who has the best Mexican food in town. The kinds of things that make up casual conversation with our peers.
I can tell when I am getting starved for that kind of interaction. I spend WAY too much time talking to the clerk at the gas station or I try to engage complete strangers in a discussion standing in line at the Wal-Mart. Stuff like that. Or I just wander into another classroom and spend all together too much time trying to spark a debate or a petty complaint session. It makes me dull and uninteresting.
Most of my conversations yesterday involved the sparkling wit of teenagers. “This stuff is boring.” “Why do we gotta have a dress code?” “How come I failed that quiz?” “Why is lunch so bad when they charge us $2.40?” And like a moron, I answer them.
This Stuff is Boring.
“Yes. School can sometimes seem boring. It bored me when I was in school. But I never let my need for entertainment outweigh my desire to succeed. Learning isn’t about memorization it’s about skills. Learn the correct set of skills, including surviving boredom, and you will become a fully realized adult who is ready to accomplish anything. Tell me how to make it less boring for you and I will try and tell you how to make it less boring for yourself.”
If that doesn’t work I tell them, “When it says Six Flags on the sign out front, you can complain about the lack of entertainment.” OK…I really say that to myself but the point stands.
Why Do We Have a Dress Code?
“Dress codes exist everywhere we go. We dress one way for work, another way for church and even another way to hang out with our friends. Dressing a certain way for school is just another code we have to live by.”
The fact is, I don’t like a dress code for high school students. It stifles creativity, has the appearance of placing a school’s emphasis on something other than education and takes up way too much of a teacher’s day. We shouldn’t be fashion cops. I didn’t have a dress code in high school beyond wearing appropriate clothing. If I wanted to wear a “Jaws” t-shirt to the first day of school, I could.
But some schools have a real need for dress and/or uniform codes. Gang culture has placed an importance on certain colors that just didn’t exist when I was in high school. Intruders are coming into our schools and killing our children. A school uniform just makes it easier to sort out who belongs on campus and who doesn’t. So…I guess I’m on the fence. I can really see both sides of the issue. Except in terms of hair. If a girl or boy wants to go to school with pink hair, let them. It will not be a distraction to education. And it’s the only thing a young person cannot change when he or she gets home.
How Come I Failed That Quiz/Assignment/Presentation/Whatever?
“There are many things to consider when measuring success, especially your own success. Did you complete all the steps in a timely manner? Was everything complete and did you check all of your work? Do you really understand the assignment? If you don’t, did you come to me and explain your needs? I will be happy to meet with you before or after school if you need more help? Or set you up with a peer tutor?”
What I want to say is, “You failed because you didn’t study, were more concerned with your cell phone, your iPod, what Susie wrote on her Facebook page or whatever. Sit down, stop talking and do your work.” But I don’t because it sounds mean. And maybe it is. But it’s what they told me in school and it worked.
Why is Lunch so Bad When It Costs $2.40?
“Uhmmm…I got nuthin’…except maybe that $2.40 isn’t really a lot (NOT ALOT!) when you consider what it costs in the real world.”
There are days when I hope for a meeting just so some adults can talk about adult things in an adult way. Like today.