Cutting Class as a Family
The kids all cut class today, you know, for no reason really. It had nothing to do with the fact that today is the opening day of a massively popular sci-fi franchise movie that shall remain nameless – total coincidence. It was also a coincidence that I happened to have no meetings booked today and that my homestay student also played hookey from school… but… since everyone just happens to be unexpectedly free today, I think we’ll go to the matinee.
I should confess right now that this is all completely in my character. I’ve been a class-skipper my whole life. It was harder when I was really young and a bus student, but as soon as I was moved to a school within walking distance (Grade 4, I think), I started forging notes to get out of class. I wasn’t stupid about it. I made sure not to do it too often, and I would bring the note the day before I planned to skip, because that meant nobody would call home about it. The next morning I’d walk my younger brothers to the schoolyard and then sort of disappear. I’d head up to the library and spend all day reading trash fantasy novels or trying to write my own, then pick up my brothers after school.
By Grade 7 and 8 (when I lived literally next door to the school and had no younger siblings at the same school to worry about), I wouldn’t even need to leave the house. I was always the last one out the door anyway, after my parents dropped off the younger kids and headed to work themselves. I just went through the motions of getting ready for class and then let everyone else go away.
In highschool (when forgeries stopped working), I discovered that I could have 10 “unexplained absences” before I would be forced to do make-up assignments. Each year I made sure I used every one of those 10 absences. If there were three more days of school and I still had three more absences coming to me, I just ended my personal school year a little early.
On top of these “unexplained absences”, my parents were pretty relaxed about signing us out of school for just about anything. If we “weren’t feeling good”, or there was some sort of special event going on, or even if we just felt like we needed “a mental health day”, they were happy to send a note or make a call and get us out of class.
Now, I know for a fact that my teachers didn’t appreciate my family’s lackadaisical attitude toward school attendance (I can’t count the number of detentions I had and the number of times I endured a vice-principal’s lecture on the importance of good attendance). I also know that my kids’ current teachers don’t appreciate it when I condone (or, let’s face it, entirely plan and execute) these kinds of school absences. They can’t really give detentions for parent-sanctioned absences, but they still give great lectures (which haven’t changed much in 30 years, actually) to kids and parents alike.
The thing is, I’m not convinced that missing a day of school now and again really has that much effect on kids’ grades or (more importantly) on how much they’re actually learning. Sure, being out of school for several weeks in a row might mean missing a concept or a unit that they’d to catch up on, but a day or two here and there isn’t going to mean much to most kids, assuming that they don’t have an exam or something.
And there are some solid benefits to taking an occasional break from school (or work for that matter). It’s good to break up the routine and do something different now and again. It’s good to chuck everything and have some fun family time every once in a while. Kids need to know that life isn’t all school (or work). They need to know that it’s okay to take a break if they need it for their self-care. They need to know that getting the best grades (or making the most money) isn’t worth ruining their health, ignoring their friends and family, giving up on their hobbies, missing out on interesting opportunities, or (in other words) leading a life worth living.
So, even though I’m pretty sure this movie isn’t going to win any awards for its acting or screenwriting (or anything other than its effects, to be honest), we’re cutting class today, and we’re going to see it anyway.