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Essay on Why Students Drop Out of High School

BACKGROUND:

Okay, so I go to high school in the dinky town of Chatsworth, GA. At my high school we have a bi-weekly program, mandatory for all students, called “Advisement”. Advisement is really nothing more than 55 minutes of state-sanctioned, glorified parenting (albeit a pathetic excuse for such) of the student body by school officials. Sounds great, right? Well, not exactly… You see, quite early on I figured out that the Advisement program is a lot like socialism, communism, or a grapefruit diet: it looks great on paper, but is entirely possible to actually pull off with positive results. A meeting of advisement might go something like this: Myself and a group of fifteen or so other students all with a last name alphabetically similar to mine would sit on the bleachers in the school gymnasium and wait for our “counselor” to arrive his usual ten minutes late. After the big cheese himself showed up, one of two things was bound to happen. Option one: nothing. You got it – zilch, nada, zero, squat. We’d all just sit there talking amongst ourselves, usually about the idiocy of the program. This was the most frequent occurrence. However, on a few rare occasions, Option #2 would rear its ugly head. What is Option # 2 you ask? Well, Option #2 consisted of my peers and myself being given a worksheet with primary school illustrations of smiling children (who I’m certain were only smiling because they didn’t smoke and didn’t chew and didn’t go with girls who do. Well, on second thought, considering many of the messages they tried (in vain) to try to get across to us in advisement, they didn’t go with girls at all, if you get my drift) followed by a set of ambiguous instructions mumbled from the bottom of the bleachers where our “mentor” sat looking dazed and jus slightly cognitively under-gifted. It was on one of these such days that the essay you are about to read was brought into this world by me with a pencil and a great deal of frustration. On that particular day, we were all instructed to get out the cliché paper and pencil and write a paragraph about why students drop out of high school. We were all then passed a photocopied sheet with bullets on it listing the stereotypical reasons for dropout to well, drop out. Looking over this sheet I saw reasons like: “School just isn’t for me. I don’t need it.” and “I hate my teachers.” and (the kicker) “I perceive my classes as boring.” I thought that those were pretty realistic complaints that many considering dropping out might have, but the last one… It really bothered me. You see, I realized that sure, a lot of disgruntled high school students (especially 16 and 17-year-olds who can barely see past Friday night) might be dead certain that “school just ain't for them and there ain't no way they’z every gonna use it.”, and I was more than certain that many (if not most) hated a few of their teachers. Heck, even I’ve had several that out never be allowed to grace the doors of any educational establishment ever again for the rest of their days, but that very last reason – it was just something about the wording…
Well, I daresay that this is more than enough background information to fully understand where the essay that is the meat of this paper came from. As I write this intro, it has only been 9 months since I originally penned the essay you are about to read. Life in high school and the ridiculous amount of red tape that one must machete through in order to be successful in it are still very fresh in my mind. I’m still a 10th grade high school sophomore, but I have a pretty good feeling that the vast majority of the readership of this essay will be made up of a significantly older age bracket. In light of this, I implore you to think back to your high school career and read this paper through the eyes of someone who still walks the halls of a government-funded establishment of “higher education”. Enjoy.

THE ESSAY:

I both agree and disagree with the reasons presented here. The paper said one of the main reasons is that students drop out because they PERCEIVE that classes are boring. The truth is that many classes ARE extremely dull, due to poor lesson-planning and unmotivated, apathetic teachers {footnote 1}.
Demonizing the students’ perception of the classes is nothing more than a tactful yet deceptive approach at the internal shortcomings of the educational bureaucracy.
Instead of engaging work and active intellectual discussion/debate, students are forced to jump through the hoops of pointless busy work and futile self-help/self-awareness assignments such as this one.
Student disinterest and apathy are products of a stagnant and stifling environment. Dropout rates, I personally believe, would be exponentially lowered if educators took a less bureaucratic approach at student achievement.
You can’t have a successful one size fits all plan that will actually end up working. The theories of Dr. Howard Gardner attest to this by outlining the many different ways that people can think.
Standards written by left-brain officials cannot work for predominantly right-brain students. For years in this school system my creativity and viewpoints have [been] celebrated in some classes, but for the most part have been stifled by teachers not willing [to] either put forth the effort necessary to facilitate such individuality or that are simply opposed to any unorthodox thinking/changes in practice.
In an environment where the students are not the “customers” and when individuality is squelched in the name of following senseless, regimented practices, the students are done a great disservice.
I am committed to graduate ONLY because I know that I must do so to get anywhere in life. I am frustrated, dissatisfied, and stifled by MANY of the practices employed in many classes I have this year and have had in the past within the school system.
Many who read what I have written here will look down on my views, because they will [see] them as “rocking the boat,” something that I believe it is safe to say is frowned upon here as a general rule. There is a quote by John Locke that says, “New opinions are always suspected and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not common.” There is such logic in this and the sad thing is that my ideas (in this respect) are neither new or radical, only despised because they require energetic commitment to be put into practice. It saddens me deeply that the school boasts of a forward-thinking, cutting-edge, technologically-centered, example-setting school system, when in reality these claims are only partially true. Money is NOT the issue. I am so fed up with the excuse of lack of funding being used to excuse time-wasting, needless activities! An engaging, entertaining, worthwhile class can be executed with nothing more than a committed instructor and engaged students {footnote 2}. I am not referring to some ideal, yet non-existent classroom setting. My AP (World History) class this year has been absolutely enthralling EVEN THOUGH some of the required, yet frustrating practices have been implemented in his class on a regular basis.
At the end of the day, those who come to school with a genuine DESIRE to take something away from the experience do so; and those who have no drive do not do so, REGARDLESSS of the implementation of the practices put into place in hopes of improving student achievement. The problem with these types of measures is that they focus solely on boosting TEST SCORES. THIS IS NOT THE PROPER APPROACH! (Standardized tests [sic are] 9 times out of 10 are a very poor representation of student UNDERSTANDING. Simple memorization is not adequate education! I can memorize scores of random information and then ace a test over it, but all that proves is that I have a good memory.
Memory is of importance, there is no doubt of this, but equally, it is NOT the main goal. A deep understanding of the material is vastly more instrumental in the students gaining REAL-WORLD understanding. It is no wonder to me why so many graduates/dropouts here go into construction/metalworking, etc. These are the only classes many individuals find worthwhile because they are the few classes offered that provide hands-on experience that guarantee understanding through practice, not simple words. I guarantee you I can read an instructional book on how to do just about ANYTHING, and then write extensively on how to do it, but that writing is no proof whatsoever that I actually understand how to perform said task or that I am physically capable of doing the activity in a real-world setting.
I have a lot more that I could say but basically all I’m trying to get across is that the entire focus in this school is wrong and that is one of the main reasons for teenage dropouts here.

FOOTNOTES:

1: Blaming boring classes on students’ perception of how material is presented is just as ludicrous as someone blaming bad weather on peoples’ reaction to it.

2: Students are only engaged when they are taught with the medium through which they learn BEST. Everyone’s different!



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