We Need More Free Cuts

It’s seventh period on a Friday. The home stretch, and the minutes seem to get longer. The last period of the week is the most cruel and torturous forty-five minutes known to student-kind unless your teacher is merciful enough to grant a free cut. In one of my classes, students are so eager to begin the weekend that they have taken to requesting a free cut at the beginning of class. At first I found this amusing, but as the weeks wore on and it became clear that our relentless badgering wasn’t going to sway our teacher, I gave up on the hope of the free cut. My classmates did not: This has now become a daily ritual, and often cuts into class time. I do not mind debating with a teacher for a class off, but the class’s insistent whining grows annoying, both for the teacher and other classmates, especially as it has become clear that we won’t be receiving a free cut in response to our pleas. We lose time in the beginning of class when we could potentially get let out early once we covered the material. But the class never fails to begin each period with the daily whine. Although I do not agree with wasting class time find the insistent, pointless pleading annoying, my classmates have a valid point. Ultimately, we make the decision to attend class. Whether we are motivated by sheer intellectual curiosity or whether we don’t want to accumulate unexcused absences, we muster ourselves into all of our classes. This is a tiresome schedule, but somehow, we all manage to get by. But a little free time would do a lot of good. We are not physically forced to attend our classes; our regular attendance is a result of our own self-discipline. Students ought to be rewarded for their diligence in a way that doesn’t make them fall behind in their studies. During especially stressful times, we are allowed one period of personal time. However, personal time can undermine our academic endeavors. We take a class off to finish up a paper, but we also have to account for the class we missed, get the notes for the day, and make up the work. Personal time can create more problems than it solves, and often students opt not to use it. The best way to alleviate stress and recognize students’ hard work and discipline is for teachers to announce free cuts. We don’t miss any class work and have forty-five minutes of freedom. In Winter Term, teachers work to accommodate the expected Head of School Day and it would be simple to do so for a free cut as well. Many teachers do this; they announce that students can use the period that the class meets in to work on an assignment. This 45-minute gift is invaluable and can be more productive than class time when such things as a paper are due. Here at Andover, we are industrious beings. We generally spend our time in productive ways. Think of how much we accomplish in our unscheduled time. We play sports, finish assignments, and participate in oodles of clubs. No one sets blocked schedules for the time after class: we manage to get our work done. For the students taking five or fewer classes, we know how to make the best of our daily free period. Whether we spend our free time studying, completing assignments, or working out, we are accomplishing something. Even a 45-minute nap is productive; we need to recharge our batteries once and a while. Students do not have the right to demand free cuts from a teacher, especially if their whining and wheedling interferes with class time. Teachers could avoid this problem by planning a free cut in advance. With the prospect of a promised, impending class off, students are likely to complain less. The benefits of a scheduled free cut for every class would be worthwhile. An extra block of time to devote to work from the class could result in more thorough knowledge of the material and intelligent class discussions. Of course, the quality of the class discussions would only peak directly after the free cut, as that would be the time that the students would be sufficiently prepared. Considering that many students sweet-talk their way through class discussions because they didn’t have time to do the homework, I would say that one informed discussion is better than none. Until the day that teachers decide to give free cuts out freely, I’ll take what I can get.