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Cost and Benefit: The True Story of a Teacher-less Econ Class

When the bell rings in high school, the casual observer should find students sitting in neat, organized rows, as a teacher approaches the front of the room; he or she should be as prepared to teach as the students should be to learn. This repetitive routine drones on day after uneventful day; the monotonous cycle rarely breaking. However, it was on March 1st when the unthinkable event occurred: the day when the seventh hour Economic Principles class stood still. There was no teacher (not even a substitute) to be found. Ten, then fifteen, soon twenty-five minutes passed, and there was still no sign of any authoritative figure making his or her presence known. So you may ask, just what became of this mere class period? How did the earth continue spinning? Of course, the world did continue (because if it didn't we would have bigger problems,) and so did the class, but how? How can one function without the guidance of a teacher? Shouldn't we find someone older and wiser to show us the way? How will a group of thirty juniors and seniors handle this? All of these questions crossed my mind as I bit my lip, glancing at the clock, while I watched each second tick by. The decision was unanimously (and not vocally communicated) by the entire class to relax and enjoy this vacation from the norm given to us from the heavens. We never weighed the costs, the cons if you will, only thinking of the benefits which were too deliciously tempting to resist.

After fifteen minutes passed, I tentatively took out the College level English paper which I had slaved over the night before. I used this period to edit and revise; I even traded papers with my good friend, Mr. Kyle Hackel. I had to work that night, so if there was to be no person dictating the classroom, why not finish my other homework? It wasn't like I was breaking desks and starting a bonfire in the middle of class– there was no harm done. As I believe in sticking by my fellow classmates, they were doing the same: either talking or working on other homework. Only production, not destruction. Another benefit was just being able to chill out. Being a senior in high school, I cannot begin to say how refreshing it was to just sit, do my work leisurely and occasionally chat. I barely have a free period, as my senior release is eaten up by an Independent Study and helping out with a first semester project, not to mention a part-time job, and volunteering. Needless to say I don't like wasting precious seconds, and if I have a pinch of free time sprinkled into my hand, I'm going to use it how I see fit. My counterparts felt the same. We are all dedicated, diligent students; why should one free class period cost us? We were relaxed, content– happy even. That was enough of a benefit for me. As I mentioned before, however, no one predicted, let alone thought, about the consequences.

We sure felt them though, as we filed into class the next day and saw the look of disappointment plainly etched onto our teacher's face. As was anticipated, we got “The Lecture.” In summary, “more is expected of the juniors and seniors in the class, the majority who happen to be the school's biggest leaders.” We were also told that our lack of action was “irresponsible.” After “The Lecture,” I felt the first con: The Guilt. Maybe we should have told another teacher. Next was: The Excess Homework. Both of these punishments hung over my head like one of those awful cartoon rain clouds– for a few minutes anyway. Because the other con, dredged up from “The Lecture,” was my anger; my temper flared within my soul at being called an irresponsible student, not a leader. All this was accused for one “mistake,” which I still stubbornly believe was not our fault. Because after The Lecture, I looked inside myself, dug into the interior shelf where I keep all of my priorities lined up and saw who I truly am. I am a caring daughter and sister; I'm a good and loyal friend. I value my school work, and I do it well. I am creative and a writer, and everyday I work to improve, pushing myself farther than I think possible; heck I even started my own independent study. I was a crucial member of the Civic Engagement class which has responsibility written all over it. I am an attentive and punctual employee. I understand that our class should have stepped up to find a substitute-substitute teacher even though that's not in our job description; however I hardly think a group of otherwise awesome students should be taking the brunt of this. We don't get paid to do a teacher's job (come to think of it, we don't get paid at all.) We were students being students, and when it comes right down to it, we're still kids. So the costs seem to outweigh the benefit of being able to breathe, for once, throughout the day. Never again will we have this lapse in judgment.

Tomorrow is March 3rd. When the bell rings, marking the start of seventh period, the casual observer will find thirty students sitting in neat, organized rows, as a teacher approaches the front of the room. He or she will be as prepared to teach as the students should be to learn. This repetitive routine drones on day after uneventful day; the cycle rarely breaking, and I find myself listening to the monotonous pulse of the clock, matching the sound with that of my own beating, responsible heart: tic tic tic...



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