October 5, 2016 by Good Teachers Work Hard
Most adults would agree that attending school is important. Yet students continue to miss school for a myriad of reasons. What exactly are these reasons? A huge dichotomy exists between what adults believe and what teens are saying about skipping school.
When I polled over 100 teachers and parents from various geographic areas on reasons students may skip school (not due to a legitimate illness), their views were as follows:
56% believed students did not want to go to school because of laziness/not wanting to do school work
37% believed students were too tired and just wanted to sleep
The adults overwhelmingly grouped students’ reasoning into two main categories, both of which hint at high school students being lazy and unmotivated. Parents and teachers may know something about teens, but the students offered much different views.
When I polled 100 teens (from three different suburban school districts) about skipping school (all of whom had actually skipped school at one time or another), I received one overwhelming response, and many secondary responses. I am noting both below:
86% of teens stated that school didn’t offer enough academic challenges because it was boring
Secondary answers were even more insightful:
32% of high school students said they were bullied
23% cited a lack of respect from their teachers
13% were too tired from working late
12% did not have necessary medications for depression, anxiety, ADHD, asthma, etc.
10% had unclean clothes or clothes that didn’t fit
6% wanted to stay home with a boyfriend or girlfriend that also skipped school that day
2% overslept and decided to stay home
2% had no running water at home for a shower
Until this separation of rationale is acknowledged and corrected by schools, administrators, teachers, guidance counselors, and parents, our students will continue to suffer.
My unsolicited advice? Teens – if you are disinterested in school, you need to learn better coping skills to deal with boredom. Not everything in this world is like a video game. Life is not always full of flashy graphics, loud noises, and bright colors. Accept some things for what they are, and focus on receiving the best education possible.
Teachers – if you are not challenging your students, it’s time to up your game. I have personally worked with dynamic teachers who provide a fantastic education to their students. If you are one of them, I sincerely thank you. Please keep fighting the good fight. Conversely, I have worked with dead wood teachers who cannot manage a classroom, lack the ability to relate to their students, and are anxiously awaiting retirement, summers off, and a comfortable pension. If you fall into the latter category, please recognize that you are damaging your students far more than helping them. Fix your attitude. Now. It’s never too late to implement positive changes in your classroom.
School districts and administrators – keep guidance counselors in your schools. Provide students with varied classes, including those that are not dictated by standardized testing, such as art, music, and vocational classes. Students need diverse learning opportunities based upon their different learning styles. Please appeal to visual, aural, verbal, physical, logical, social, and solitary learners. Tests do not accurately measure ALL students’ abilities or levels of intelligence.
Parents – as difficult as your teens may be, please try your best to keep the lines of communication open. Your children may wear a tough façade, but they are still your children, and if anyone can get through their self-imposed walls, it’s you. Remember, too, that you are providing the framework for your children to transition into adulthood. If you come home drunk (or not at all), continually fight with people, or do not take responsibility for your actions, what message is that sending to your children? If you have an issue that needs to be addressed, please seek professional help. Demonstrating a willingness to create a better world for yourself will be a lesson your child will never forget.