Thursday, February 7, 2013

Charging Kids Too Much

No this isn't about any of the hated student fees or charges that are becoming far too common amidst declining state support.  It is about something even more important.

I ask you to imagine:

A bank that credits your account each morning with $86,400. It carries over no balance from day to day. And that is the only downside to it all.  Every evening it deletes whatever part of the balance you fail to use during that day.
What would you do?

Most would make sure they use every last cent.  Anyone who doesn't is a fool. And those who realize this and still leave change in the deposit is a bigger fool. Right?

Well each student has such a valuable bank. They do not have to open an account. But such an account belongs to them since the day they were born. In fact, we all get to use such an account. It's called TIME.

The cost of education is more than money.

Every of us is credited with 86,400 seconds each and every day. And every night it writes off as lost whatever you have failed to invest wisely. It carries no balance. It allows no overdraft. Each day it opens a new account. Time lost is time lost forever. 

One thing I have noticed over the past few years in my division is how busy everyone seems to be.  I know for me trying to raise two kids, be a husband, teach 6 classes, coach and also find time for me among a thousand others things is tough.  I cannot imagine what it is like for a student in high school.  I often feel sorry when I assign homework or projects that as an educator I know is worthwhile.   They smile less, seem stressed and generally seem to find less joy in school.
I quit Facebook.  No one noticed.

Some students choose to spend that money in big chunks and take 5 or 6 AP classes, play multiple sports and volunteer time for charities.  I know some waste hours on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Texting, SnapChat and a handful of other social media sites  So what?  It is their time.  Others have less choice and in the midst of being saddled with 8 classes in order to graduate, they work, help raise their brothers and sisters and provide for their families.  

All the while, others that are far removed from the true cost of things very callously "bill" us all with more time.  Be it at the federal, state or local level the upward push has meant more and more of our $86,400 is already spoken for.  The addition of a personal finance credit, an online course, individually don't amount to much.  But they add up quickly.

How refreshing would it be to just speak up and say, "No, this is my money(time)", "I will not spend it doing that".  Not spoken in a defiant tone but one that seeks control.  Real Choice. Opportunity to spend our money in a manner suitable to our own wants and needs.  Not those of a bygone era.   Longer days and extended schools years be darned.

Some things will never change
I do not favor abandoning the traditions of the past and replacing them with flashy and shiny alternatives on the exterior that have no enduring value.  Nor am I suggesting that technology could ever begin to serve as a substitute for genuine and honest human interaction between teacher and pupil.  But we must explore the plurality of ways we can best prepare our kids for each day, as it comes.  We must recognize testing has its place as long as we know its purpose.  Labeling something a "requirement" must not be due to a fad or pressures of the day. Instead we'd reserve that label for those things we deem absolutely essential for a member of a democratic society to endure.

My students and time spent on work
Decision makers and reformers must recognize and appreciate the the value of time.  We know they are concerned about money and budgets.  But time is a form of currency and they are too often spending it for us.  They must acknowledge that the price they are charging is beginning to be excessive.  When given a choice, they should choose quality over quantity and not charge kids too much. 
In so many ways

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