Throwback Thursday Thoughts on School

So I got invited to the National Society of Collegiate Scholars recently. I’m not saying that to brag, it actually came as a pleasant surprise. There’s always been a major discrepancy between how I think I’m doing in school, which always ranges from average to turning in drool as an assignment, and how I’m actually doing, which always ranges from decent to damn, nice job! It got me thinking about why I’m like that, and I have to blame the advent of online gradebooks.

Before my parents could see an itemized list of all the assignments and tests that made up my grade, my grade was just my grade, which was consistently an A or a B. And they were proud of me. I was a really good student. But that all took a turn in the 8th grade, and the rest of my grade school life was completely ruined thanks to freaking Edline, eSembler, Moodle, and the rest of those gradebook softwares developed straight from the office desks of HELL.

See, I got good grades in school, but I wouldn’t consider myself a good student. In fact, I was a kind of terrible student. I hated school without even realizing that I hated school. I really liked math, so that seemed to distract me from the fact that everything else was utter baloney. I took tests like a pro, wrote papers in my sleep, but when it came to homework, eh no thanks.

AP GovernmentLiterally writing papers in my sleep.. Above: AP Government, senior year.

I viewed homework as only necessary if you didn’t understand the lesson in class. So I rarely did it. What business do I have taking a pile of unfun home with me for no good reason? That’s just stupid. Playing Sims until I lose concept of real time is a much better way to spend my day.

I remember having one class in 6th grade, where my teacher made us do our own grading. We had a chart to put in the front of our binders, and when she’d give us our graded work back, we would add our score and divide it by the amount of possible points, yadda yadda, math and junk. That’s where I realized how much of our homework was BS, grade-wise, and how much of it I could get away with not doing. So I’d still maintain my A’s and B’s, and I had more time to do nothing. And I did nothing a whole lot…til my dad caught on.

My school introduced Edline to our homepage. And they didn’t just tell us students. No no no, they sent a nice email to every parent giving them an option to have their own parental account to see their child’s progress reports and classes. Now my dad could log into my grades. Now he could see my A or B up at the top of the page, and then scroll down to see a seemingly never-ending stream of zeros marking all of the homework assignments I refused to do. Those perfectly written essays and 98’s on every test suddenly didn’t matter. Why I wasn’t doing my homework was the only question that mattered. That gave me no excuse to make B’s anymore, and A’s weren’t as meaningful when it became apparent that I didn’t work very hard for them. The end of every semester was no longer greeted with a dinner at my favorite restaurant and copious amounts of ice cream. Instead, I got the same hour long stern talking to about how I can and NEED TO do better, year after year.

Yes, year after year. It became a habit I never really broke. Actually, when I moved to California in the middle of high school, I met friends like me. And what always happens when two or more people with bad ideas get together? They collectively come up with worse ideas. Denny’s, Just Dance, and other shenanigans were how I spent my mornings for at least half of my senior year. My friends and I all dropped our first period, because it should be illegal to teach kids AP Calc before noon. And we just hung out together every morning. We didn’t always get to our second class on time afterwards either, or at all sometimes. I got truant letters in the mail on a monthly basis until even after I graduated. At this point, gradebook technology had advanced even further, and now parents could view attendance! Worse yet, teachers could add nice little side notes on each class day that read things like, “Went to library for class research, never returned.” Every other day.

Wow, remembering back, it’s a wonder how I ever graduated, let alone managing a decent GPA. I really should to strive to be better. Mmmm….maybe later. Someone stop goofing off from being so fun. I’m pretty sure I had a different point to this, but I forgot. Bottom line, don’t be like me. And don’t give schools your parent’s email addresses. That is one slippery slope, believe me.

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