[Editorial] A New Approach to Curing Senoritis
by The Milton Measure on Friday, February 21st, 2014
By the time the second semester rolls around, most seniors complain of “no rest for the weary.” Milton, which is a college preparatory school, continues to hold the same expectations for seniors throughout their final year, though motivation in many students drops after their college applications are complete. A four-year career at Milton Academy takes a toll on any student, as academic, athletic and social pressures pile on. Many seniors feel that they deserve a break from the rigor and, at some points, monotony that they have endured for so long.
What does this say about Milton when our senior leaders essentially give up on academia for their final three months? Firstly, seniors fail to realize what kind of message this sends to our underclassmen: the value of your Milton experience is visible only in your college acceptances. By neglecting schoolwork after colleges receive first semester grades, seniors act as though the sole purpose for working hard and the sole reward for those labors is a college decision. As a college prep school, Milton not only prepares students to apply to college but also teaches the skills necessary to succeed at a higher institution. Those lessons don’t lose their value after January. Also, as Milton has focused on adjusting its curricula to fit a modern standard for cross-discipline studies that prepare students for life beyond school, lessons taught during senior spring will become more and more valuable.
Secondly, when seniors tank the last few months of their last year, it reflects on the character of the class as a whole. It exposes the seniors as people who can invest so much into an education but not be willing to put in a little extra effort to finish strong. Life presents countless tasks that, when finished carelessly or insufficiently, lose much of their effect and value. Seniors who slump during the spring will have the most prominent memories of meaningless classes and sluggish Harkness table discussions because those are the last things to have happened in classes at Milton for them. Seniors deserve a better note to finish on, and although theytake effort, classes that finish on a high point will have more worth in a student’s life.
Teachers can also help further engage seniors in their final semester at Milton by offering more student investment in curriculum construction, which they have already begun to do. Often, the work becomes tedious after seven semesters of similar tasks. Curricula for classes that contain a majority of seniors should be tailored to the interests of the seniors in that course. A perfect example of this strategy is in the Three Writers English course for seniors, in which the class examines three writers in depth over the course of the year. The third writer, who is studied over the second semester, is picked by the students. The course is designed to keep seniors engaged in a different way than they had been assigned to work before. Other individual research opportunities such as the term paper and DYO foster a stronger connection between students and their learning because of the element of choice. These second-semester classes keep seniors engaged because they had a say in their curriculum and enjoy the work they are doing.
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