Has the following ever happened to you? A student decides to drop your course part way through the year, usually after term report cards. They bring the withdrawal form to you and say, “I love your course but I have to drop it.” Sometimes it’s followed by, “I’m so, so sorry,” as if they’ve just stabbed you in the heart. This has happened again to me very recently. The reason why? They are academically overloaded and they need to focus on math and science and therefore need to drop history. Now this is not going to be a diatribe about math and science being considered more valuable than history. While I’m always up for an interdisciplinary debate over which reigns supreme, I’ll save that for another post. I digress.
“I love your course but I have to drop it.”
The issue is not that a student prefers one course over another, nor is this a post on self-pity. I have long since given up the notion that I can convert everyone to the ways and life of history. Besides, I’m not so sure the world would be a better place if I were to be successful. I digress again. The issue is that students drop the course despite it being one of their favourites. They are compelled to drop it because of the pressures exerted on them to become successful applicants to a post secondary institution. On the one hand, this is an entirely rational decision. The anxieties around the competitive nature of post secondary applications is significant enough to warrant such a move; students in senior high school courses need to start thinking about their future. On the other hand, it’s a shame because I know the value they are getting out of the course. They show up for every class, enthusiastic to learn, ready to engage, ask pertinent and critical thinking questions, and contribute to the overall class dynamic in a constructive way. Then they leave––darn.
“It’s a shame because I know the value they are getting out of the course.”
More often than not, it is the student that has a good mind for history that drops it. The one that got away––oh well. There isn’t much that can be done about it either. I can tell him or her that it is a shame, but the decision has been made, usually with the support of their parents. I suppose my frustration lies not with the student, but with the prohibitively high grades that are required for acceptance into post secondary institutions. Because of this, students need to drop courses in order to have more time to increase marks in others. I often wonder if fewer students would drop courses, knowing that the entrance stakes weren’t so high––and in the process they would be exposed to a more well-rounded education. In the end, grade 12 has become a numbers game. Sad but true…