Contemplations, High School Seniors–May 18

Rarely do I go ten days without posting on my blog.  I teach English IV in high school.  Most people think students want to graduate, will do what it takes to do so.  Such is not always the case.  Ten days ago, at the time of my last post, at least ten per cent of my senior class members did not have passing grades.  When the school looked at all classes, including math, the percentage hit 47.  Hard to believe, I know.  After nearly harassing students about missing papers and their grade, emailing parents, and hunting students down during other classes and the hallways to remind them, I am down to only a few not passing.

Several types of students exist, including those who work hard and care no matter what, those who think a miracle will occur and they will pass no matter what, and those who really do not care all that much and think whatever, it won’t matter.  Today we had Senior Day.  As a teacher delegated to go, I spent from 8 to 4 with nearly 90 students between the ages of 17 and 19.  All the above groups presented themselves to jump endlessly at a trampoline club and later at the local university athletic center to engage in the activity of choice.

Some students demonstrate the social ability to move from group to group comfortably.  Others, like several young women with whom I walked, exercised on various machines, and then played racket ball, feel comfortable chiefly with close, at least somewhat serious friends.

This leads me to contemplate what creates career success in life.  Social dexterity helps as does a decent work ethic.  Intelligence matters also.  The more adept combine all these.  Is it possible to find success if these are lacking?  It depends on the chosen career and what the individual wants to achieve.

Last year some of the smartest students, especially females, made choices that in the short run cut off their academic life.  Some are working, some waiting for a baby to be born.  Several who demonstrated less academic acuity in high school have finished their first year of college quite successfully.  Some of their choices continue to mystify me.

Yesterday, a freshman commented to a senior that freshmen year does not matter much.  The senior, who does have ambitious college plans, immediately corrected the freshman.  He expressed regret at not taking high school more seriously sooner.  It does matter.  Choices a student makes as young as 14 and 15 can affect the rest of his or her life.

The question I keep thinking is this:  how do I as a teacher help them make wise decisions?  The literature we read aptly demonstrates the effects of both good and bad decisions.  Does that help?  How many will only learn through life’s hard lessons?


Note:  Four female students who do care walked into my classroom yesterday and presented me with a red rose bush ready for planting.  I will plant it this weekend.