My biggest pet peeve is being late. I hate when something happens that makes me late for something. I hate when other people show up late for appointments or events. And I really detest people who don't care that they are late--as to me, it is the ultimate show of disrespect. Obviously, they think your time has no value. So that is why the recent crackdown on tardiness at Oshkosh West High School catches my attention.
Kids are finding themselves locked out of rooms if they try to come in after the bell. And those who are habitually tardy are being issued citations. Those of us out here in the "real world" who have to deal with the future graduates of West--and all schools--are likely nodding our heads in agreement with the crackdown and thinking "They need to learn a valuable life lesson. Show up late for work every day and you get fired".
But the problem with tardiness is more an indication of the general decline in what most of us would consider to be "professionalism" in schools. I haven't been inside West High during the school day for awhile, but I was in Neenah High School just last week--and for anyone beyond their 20-year class reunion, you probably wouldn't recognize what is going on.
In one classroom, you had no desks. The kids were sitting in a circle with the teacher leading the discussion while sitting amongst the students. In the neighboring classroom, the kids were sitting at tables arranged in a square around the room--with the only light coming from a table lamp on the teacher's desk in the corner. A study area looked like a coffee bar with high top tables and chairs. In the library, there were beanbag chairs and (I'm hoping) faux leather armchairs. Just off the library was the "Lit Lounge" with (again) mood lighting, kids drinking coffee or soda and everyone with earbuds in listening to music.
The teachers that accompanied the students to the presentation with the Governor looked like they had just come from Saturday morning grocery shopping. One had on a college hoodie sweatshirt and jeans. Another had a thin t-shirt emblazoned with "DUDE, be nice to people" in big red letters. Some of the kids were wearing flip-flops. And this was to meet the Governor.
If this is the atmosphere that we provide for our kids in schools now, how can we be surprised that they show up late-- a lot of the time. Yes, some kids "don't learn well in a highly structured environment"--but does that mean you throw out all structure for all kids? And how does this "casual cool" atmosphere prepare kids for the "buttoned up, on-time" professional world they will be entering a few years from now?
Maybe us "old farts" should just get ready to pull up a beanbag chair and enjoy the dim lighting when we meet our young, new investment advisor--or doctor. When he or she decides to show up 15-minutes late.