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This for my own good? I hate it already.

October 02, 2007|By ROBERT KELLER and ELIZABETH KRAMER

Ranting

We did this getting-to-know-you stuff in elementary school. In high school, it's a waste.

Picture yourself in a classroom setting with 12 other people. Now, picture yourself standing in a circle throwing an object around while saying your name and grade.

Sound familiar? Most of you might say that you did that in elementary school. Others, however, will say they've done it just recently - at North Hagerstown High School. I did this in a class called advisement.

Advisement is a new program this year. The idea is that we get together in small groups and get to know the other kids better and discuss problems and fears for 25 minutes in the morning twice a week. We do things such as I mentioned above - a juvenile getting-to-know-you exercise - as well as answering teacher questions such as who wants to be on "American Idol" and who has a pet.

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For these ridiculous activities, we lose an hour of academic learning each week.

Advisement is a complete waste of time. We are treated like first-graders. The time we spend in advisement could be used to teach important things such as English, history, math and other useful subjects. I'm concerned, because I'm a sophomore and I have the English and government High School Assessment tests (HSAs), which are required to graduate.

The Washington County Board of Education and high school administrators say they are worried about students' academic performance, yet they will let it go so that we can better get to know each other and form a strong bond with our advisement teacher.

Also, there aren't enough classrooms for all the advisement groups. Groups meet in hallways and stairwells.

I don't like that fact that advisement is required. If anything, advisement should be an optional, after-school activity for anyone who is struggling or has a problem. Some people won't open up in a group setting, so why try to force them? Let them open up when they're ready, not every Tuesday and Wednesday. Most students I talk to say that they want to be in class instead of advisement.

Obviously, everyone who is in high school passed first grade, so we shouldn't have to do first-grade activities all over again.




Getting to know other students is good idea, but it's not happening.

There are 180 days in a school year. That's 36 weeks.

At North Hagerstown High School, 25 minutes twice a week are spent in advisement. That's 50 minutes a week for 36 weeks, or 1,800 minutes.

Divide by the 60 minutes in an hour, and you get 30 hours of advisement, or a little more than four entire school days doing absolutely nothing constructive.

Advisement was designed to ensure that students had other students and teachers with whom they could connect in order to prevent students from feeling ostracized. To do this, small groups of North High students spend 25 minutes a day on Tuesdays and Wednesdays doing activities that bring them closer together.

OK, it seems like a good idea. In principle. Then you realize that these small groups consist of students whom you don't connect with because you have nothing in common, and a teacher you might not even know.

And then you realize that these 25-minute sessions cause you to miss 10 minutes from both your first and second classes. Which doesn't seem like a lot, unless one of these classes is one that has already been cut in half this year, like symphony orchestra, concert orchestra, A band, B band or chorus, concert choir or freshman chorus.

It also takes time away from advanced-placement classes in which you will be tested sometime this year.

So, what exactly do we do for 25 minutes twice a week? Well, a lot of the time so far has been spent getting to know the people in our group - though not by having them talk about themselves. For example, in my advisement group, we played a game where people with differing opinions stood on a different side of a line: "If you like red, stand on the right side of the line. If you like blue, stand on the left side."

Occasionally, we set goals for ourselves for the school year. But we don't talk about them. When we got our interim report cards, our advisement teacher passed around a piece of paper with a scale on it. The scale had a smiling face on one end and a frowning face on the other. Each student was supposed to place an anonymous mark on the scale how they felt about their grades.

So, at the end, after unidentifiable marks were placed on the scale, none of the students - not even the teacher - knew each other any better. Then, index cards were passed out. We wrote down our goals for this year and handed them to the teacher. Did we talk about our goals? No.

However, very often we talk about our fears. So far, though, no one seems to have any.

I would hate to have nothing positive to say. So here's my solution: Instead of having advisement twice a week, it should be once a month, and then maybe for longer than 25 minutes.




Fact sheet: Advisement



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