“Break”… Or Not

I shared a “Thinking Paper” that my daugther Mariet wrote for a school assignment last week and I thought I’d finish this week out on the same note. Again, courtesy of a 10th grader, is another fresh perspective on the world.

Mariet’s goal in allowing me to share this on my blog is the hope that “blog-reading teachers will take the hint.” See, she can be an optimist when she wants to be!

“Break”…Or Not
Mariet Kurtz

I sit in chemistry, listening to my teacher give notes.  The rate of reaction… dependent upon temperature… rate increases… ΔT…

I’m falling asleep again, but there’s not much I can do about it.  I know I just got back from Spring Break.  Supposedly, I shouldn’t be tired.

Let me tell you something.  Break is more exhausting than anything else.  Because something happens over break, and it’s not the students’ fault.

Teachers give projects.  Worse, teachers give group projects.

“Group project”.  No phrase on this earth could be better calculated to give a hardworking student chills.  “Group project”.  Blood, sweat, tears, yelling at your classmates, staying up until 4 AM because nobody else will work on it…

Oh, yeah.  That’s totally how I want to spend my break.  Especially since I know at least one person in my group will be out of the state without Internet access.  This sounds fun.  Because I totally want my break to be stressful.  Oh, and I also want to write a three-page thesis paper.  Because I’ve totally written another thesis paper at some point in my life.  Because I definitely know how to make a paper sound like a thesis paper.

Oh, and I’m sure the first person to read this will call me a procrastinator.  I can assure you, it’s not procrastination if you’re awake until 11 every night of the week just doing your normal homework.  There’s no time to write a thesis paper and a script during the week.  The only time it’s possible to get any work done on a project is during a break or a weekend.
My mom tells me I’m procrastinating.  She says it doesn’t get easier.

I doubt it.  When you get a real job, you don’t get homework.  Or at least you get paid for it.  At school, I’m not sure any teacher realizes that every other teacher gives homework.  No single teacher is alone in their desire to press as much work upon us as possible.  As students, we receive work until we crack… and then we receive more work.  I’m not so sure that we, as students, aren’t the only people to realize this.  And I don’t understand why.

And, of course, everything has to be assigned a week or two before a break.  That way, we can give them the option of doing the work before the break so they can turn it in beforehand!  That way, they don’t have to work over their precious break!  Of course, they can also turn it in after break.

Sorry.  The world doesn’t work like that.  We are being given the same type of assignment by every teacher.  And none of them are assignments that could possibly be completed before break.  Why do breaks occur when they occur?  To keep students from reaching the breaking point.  Nobody needs to have one of their students break down completely.  So, by the week before break, we are running on something very close to empty.  We cannot complete your project.  Terribly sorry and all, but that’s life.

Actually, no.  That’s not life.  That’s school. As previously stated, we don’t get paid for this.

And then, of course, the entire concept of break is ruined by these well-intentioned projects.  Our intended rest is eradicated by the frenzy of stress the projects bring.  We return to school, slightly dazed, without having achieved any semblance of recuperation.  As a result, we are still dangerously close to breaking.  The smallest thing sends us frighteningly close to a mental breakdown.  The next project or test will have us whimpering, curled up in the fetal position.  We can feel it.  We dread it, but we press on all the same.  At least if we break down, we get some sympathy.  If we try to avoid it, we just get F’s.

Of course, to a TJ student, an F is worse than the repercussions of breakdown.  So we keep our heads down and don’t complain.  We carry on quietly, maybe turn a paper or two in late.  But we never complain.  Not us.  We’re tough, canny, capable students.  And we love your math class, even if you give us more homework than a complete hermit with no other demands on their time could manage.  Aren’t we wonderful?  Give us an A, please.  We’re this close to going insane, seriously.  Reward us a little for all that work?

But, of course, not everybody can get an A.  It doesn’t matter how hard you worked.  What matters is how much you accomplished.  I don’t care if you’re exceedingly smart.  You’re not brilliant enough to do ten times more homework than anybody at your base school does, so you can just fail my class.  Sorry ‘bout your life.

But we don’t complain.  How could we?  It just makes us seem like whiny little kids.  Tough, canny, capable…  Yeah, right.  Try “doesn’t complain, even when faced with impossibilities.  Just like everybody else”.