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Why Attendance?

Every class period, someone walks into the classroom about halfway through the period, and asks for the attendance slip. During those rare times when everyone is there, the faculty and administration are both happy. However, if one student is missing then a long process begins of checking the student's whereabouts. Is he absent? Is he excused? How many classes has he missed? Why is it so important to the administration that each student be in his class at the time class starts? I believe that attendance is pointless and should be removed; a student who is unwillingly there will disrupt the class.

If a student decides that he does not want to go to class the administration should not take it upon themselves to force the student into his classroom, like a stray cow from the rest of the herd. If a student decides toskip a class, the administration should let him, and then he would learn the consequences of skipping class. Now that the student has been forced into his class, he is obviously going to be restless, noisy, and proceed to be a general disturbance to the rest of the class, leading the teacher to say every five minutes " Please shut your mouth". Even inside the classroom the student is not learning, but now he is not the only one who is not learning, he is keeping the rest of the class from learning as well. This problem could be alleviated if the administration realized that a student who does not want to go to class, even when in the class, will not get much out of the lecture the teacher is giving. For example, one student in one of my classes is failing miserably. It is not that she is not intelligent, but that she would rather be outside with her friends rather than cooped up in a classroom listening to some teacher drone on and on about some topic. So instead of paying attention, she carries on little side conversations that gradually grow louder, until they are talking at levels equal to that of the teacher, so that no one else in the class can hear. If attendance is not mandatory, the students who want to be in the classroom will learn, while the students who do not want to be in the room can go outside and learn the material on their own. Missing a few classes will soon teach a student that if he wants to pass the course, he has to go to class. Having students face the consequences of missing class will work better than forcing them into classes with those blue pieces of paper.

Some teachers are quickly learning this, and they say "All here" even when they know that people are missing. Usually these are teachers who teach the hardest subjects, and they know that a person who does not show up to class has no chance of learning the material on his own. Once a student cuts one of the classes, he is soon frantic to learn the topic he missed, as he realizes that he is about to flunk a large test. So after he fails, or passes just by a hair, he learns a valuable lesson: that in order to pass, you have to go to class. So his fear of failing has now made him show up to class everyday, ready to learn. The blue slips, though they might send you to class, do not make you want to learn, but instead give you another place to daydream.

When the administration realizes how useless these blue pieces of paper are, they will stop using them and instead let you make the decision on your own. This way, the administration will not have to waste its time tracking people who did not attend class, and will have time to talk about more important issues; most importantly, students will learn more about responsibility.


This page created for The Subterranean Crusader by John W. Earl. Last modified January 28, 1996.