Finals reveal underlying issues with attitudes towards academics


By Diana Leane, online managing editor
Twice a year, a magical trance encapsulates about 2100 teenagers in the Mount Prospect-Arlington Heights area. Students rush to libraries, shove their faces in books for hours and frantically check Rogerhub to see how likely it is they keep their current grades.
This semi-annual phenomena is also known as finals week. Over these seven days, major faults of the education system surface. As teachers hand out review guides that include over four months’ worth of material, students prepare their brains for an overload of information.
However, review packets are rarely completed for the sake of mastering material. Instead, students dedicate hours to preparing for one test because they care about which letter of the alphabet makes it onto their report cards.
Afterall, future admissions officers and/or employers don’t care about how hard a student tried to attain a certain grade. The final result becomes a symbol that represents both one’s work and intellect.
Unfortunately, oftentimes the further a student progresses into her high school career, the more she will struggle with motivation. This occurs because in addition to taking harder classes, upperclassmen often catch an academic disease known as senioritis.
Side effects include a disregard for schoolwork and a disinterest in focusing in class. From afar, laziness appears to be the problem, yet there are other contributing factors, too.
One is boredom, which often results in a lack of motivation. I understand this greatly because I often feel this.
After three-and-a-half years of memorizing information to receive good grades in my classes, learning more facts lacks appeal. I’ve reached a point with many of my peers where we desire discussing issues rather than learning the who, what, where, when and why of the problem.
By senior year, many teachers structure their classes in a way where students are encouraged to think and discuss the material more. However, these teachers still cannot escape the educational system that prioritizes grades over individuals’ intellectual development.
Although the grade system is unavoidable, teachers’ efforts to challenge students in addition to teaching them makes a difference. For example, I first learned about the socratic seminar method as a sophomore, which is a student-based conversation where they “are responsible for facilitating a discussion around ideas in the text rather than asserting opinions,” according to
At the time, I didn’t understand why we had to learn about this topic that didn’t relate to any books we were reading. Yet since then, some of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve had in-class originated from one of these seminars.
When classes cater to thoughts rather than memories, students face a challenge that not only forces them to learn actively rather than passively, but it also serves as a potential cure for the epidemic senioritis.