Free Time

Dear Terrence,

Today is a teacher workday, which means we teachers are at school while you kids are free. I wonder what that freedom brings you.

I know you have more “freedom” than the average student because of all the out-of-school suspensions you’ve served. I’ve often wondered about the wisdom of that. I’ll bet in some ways, at least during some of the more tiring stretches of the school year, OSS seems more like a gift than a punishment. After all, there’s no one to make you do this or that. You get to choose who you spend your time with. You can pass that time however you please.

Or can you? Perhaps your mother makes you clean house while you’re serving OSS. Maybe she has a long list of tasks that she expects completed fully and well when she returns from work. Possibly, but somehow I doubt it. She might be struggling just to get enough money to keep a roof over your head and food on your table — she might not sweat the small stuff. Whatever it is you do during those OSS days, I’m fairly certain you prefer it to what you do at school.

And all of this makes me wonder about the wisdom of OSS. I’ve already mentioned to you that I think you would benefit from some direct instruction in how to learn, in how to be successful in school and life. Couldn’t we replace OSS (and ISS, for that matter) with something like that? It would be tricky, because we would have to find a teacher with a certain patience and dedication to young people because, let’s face it, you and your friends can be a real handful in the classroom. It seems possible and even desirable, but I somehow doubt it will ever happen. The American school system likes to think of itself as being cutting edge and progressive, but it’s still relatively set in its old ways in many regards, and how to help students like you is a perfect example.

So I don’t really know what you might be doing today during your day off. Whatever it is, I hope it’s not what I’ve heard in rumor among teachers: I hope you’re not spending all your time trying to impress the members of some gang — for all I know, your gang, for I hear, as the colloquial expression goes, that you “bang.” I have some thoughts I’d like to share with you on that as well, but for now, I’ll let you get back to whatever it is you’re doing on your day off.

With hope,
Your  Friend in Room 302

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