There’s a school trying to change the way students study. Instead of pitting the young ones against each other and having them fight tooth-and-nail to earn the highest ranks in school, one institution has done away with the valedictorian and salutatorian honors. Because they’re leveling the playing field, they hope that the students in Cincinnati, Ohio’s Mason High School will be inspired to learn and better themselves through education.
Although students were used to fighting for the honor to be at the head of their class, the student at Mason High School no longer have to deal with the stress of the struggle. That’s why Principal Bobby Dodd decided to do away with the valedictorian and salutatorian ranking, so kids don’t have to add that stress to the rest of their lives. Students are so busy studying and doing lots of extracurricular activities that they don’t need to worry about who is the top-ranking student and who is in second place. At least that’s what Principal Dodd hopes gets accomplished with this initiative.
“This will help reduce the overall competitive culture at MHS to allow students to focus on exploring learning opportunities that are of interest to them.”
Although removing the class ranking system is revolutionary enough for the school, they’re not done with just that. Mason High School is also changing their start time and adjusting their expectations of students over the summer. While they used to demand students rise up at the crack of dawn in order to get to school on time, the upcoming year they will be starting school a half hour later to accommodate students and encourage them to get some more sleep. Besides that, the school has also lowered the expectations about what students should be doing during the summer. In past years, they’ve been hard taskmasters who demanded students complete grueling work during the summer vacation. The upcoming year, they will be reducing that expectation and allowing the high school students just to have more fun while they are on break.
The school said:
“We gathered feedback about the current culture at MHS and the impact it is having on students’ mental well-being. A large part of these discussions included the highly competitive culture, and the impact student course loads have on stress and anxiety levels. We have researched the reason why students take a large number of AP courses. While there are some students who take a large number of course because of their general interest in the subject area, there is a disturbingly large number of students who take AP courses to increase their grade point average.”
Principal Dodd found it “disturbing” how students were challenging themselves to increase their grade point average. He wants learning to be fun for the students at MHS, not an additional stressor that they dread every day of their lives. That’s why he listened to the research and instituted changes at the Ohio high school.
What do you think about the way this school is changing? Is it forward progress or a step backward?
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