It Means “No Worries”…

i experienced a variant of this conversation, about five times per hour, every day since Monday.

i experienced a variant of this conversation, about five times per hour, every day since Monday.

Again, I’ve inked the art. This really called for it.

So, today is the day that the first grade report of the semester is due from teachers. By Second Period, I need to have printed out my verification of those grades, signed them, and turned them into the office. Once all of that is done, the office can go ahead and print report cards…this batch to be distributed at next week’s Parent Conference Night.

Knowing this, I started to call students up to my desk, to discuss this, on Monday. Five weeks into the semester, really the only way to be failing is to have not done the work…or at least not done about half the work. I started to call up students, and had a conversation. “Look, Student X, I’m missing a whole lot of work, and it’s hurting your average. Do you have anything you can turn in to me? I’ll just take it right now, grade it, and we’ll be good to go.”

Invariably, the answer was “no.”

“Do you need a list of the work? Here…take a copy of the assignment list…I’ll check off what’s missing.”

That was always met with a long pause. Mulling things over.

“If you do the assignments, and either put them in my box in the office, or heck, hand them to me…it will make a big change in your grade.”

This was often greeted with silence, or my favorite, “I don’t know.” How can you not know? This is one of the basic transactional elements that governs the entire system of school. Do your work, and then…you get credit for it. Enough credit, and the grade is good. It was bewildering. Occasionally, a student was just honest, which was confusing, but I respected. By “confusing,” I mean that I actually had students say things like, “Thanks, but I’m okay with the grade.”

Hence, the art. Despite my mentioning graduation credits and possible ideas of college, a significant number of students just…weren’t interested. Some had the idea that it would just “all work out” because they had not passed a whole lot of classes before, but still made it to the next grade level. One pair of students expressed to me that they “didn’t want all the stress of keeping good grades…we decided to just enjoy ourselves.”

Very much the idea of the “Hakuna Matata/No Worries” song from the Lion King. It’s very much what Simba does for that part of the film…an avoidance of responsibility, a step back from becoming an adult. A part of me understands the concept well enough…adult responsibilities are hard. I often don’t like them. But…what if I didn’t learn to be responsible from the relatively low stakes environment of school? Would I be able to successfully navigate the world later? Or would I be horribly unprepared for the obligations of adulthood?

I think a large portion of school is this…learning how to navigate obligations and responsibilities. At the beginning of the week, I wondered if I was coddling students too much with my daily reminders to turn in work that they might be missing, my consults with students not doing well. I talked to the students in academic jeopardy every day this week, and very few submitted any work. Along the way, I realized that I wasn’t coddling. I was being like any Bill Collector in adult life, asking politely for what was needed to avoid an unwanted consequence.

Granted…my fail percentage isn’t all that high, per capita. That said, i have students in my second semester Tenth Grade English class who are Seniors, attending class in a last ditch effort to get the academic credits for the class, so they might graduate. With that set of examples sitting in the room with you, you might think again about the Hakuna Matata Choice. I think that I would.

In this strip, as a few others, the idea of “super-evolving” is a direct parallel to graduation, to “coming of age” and other such things. It seems on point, because given the Edu-Mountain setting, most of the bestials get their powers from some kind of super evolved DNA. The Lord of Antlers and the Squirrel King, for instance, are Edu-knights entirely because of their evolved traits. It’s also a good reason that the trio from the Lion King seemed to work…a Lion’s DNA should make a pretty excellent superhero or Science knight…just check out the Thundercats. However…if that Thundercat can’t read too well, or doesn’t have basic skills and just wants to bat around yarn all day…I really don’t want him saving my @$&.

See Simba up there? He has neither thumbs, nor a high school diploma. Lion-O had at least one of those things.

Often, it seems as if the adults at a school site are far more concerned with graduation and academics than the students who are intended to benefit from those things.


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