Student independence possibly problematic

Negatives outweigh positives

Colin Canaday

High school is a time of growth and learning. Providing social and academic freedom in entirely new ways, the independence that high school allows is still limited — and for good reason.

High school is the transition point into adulthood, coming right after the little independence allotted in middle school and right before the virtually limitless independence of adulthood. In this sense, it should almost be a perfect gradient; ever-increasing responsibilities and independence. In this scope, high school should allow more freedom than middle school, but less than adulthood, allowing an acclimation of sorts.

The problem with student independence and greater individual accountability arises when a student is given too much independence too quickly. Perhaps a student never performed too well in middle school, or there were a different set of standards held to them when compared to high school; this completely disrupts the gradient, and the potential for issues rises dramatically. In this case, that student has little to no safety net to fall back upon.

This is a time wrought with mistake after mistake, because that is how we learn. By forcing students to be too independent early on, we risk these perfectly natural mistakes becoming something more problematic. Through aiding students, while slowly allowing more independence, these mistakes can be seen as learning opportunities, rather than being strictly punitive.

That’s not to say that students shouldn’t have their voices and opinions heard and considered. Student feedback in the school system is beyond important, and it is a crucial part of maintaining equality within schools. With that said, there should also be checks and balances in place here, as well. In the same sense that students’ shouldn’t be the only ones in charge of their academics, students shouldn’t have full reign over school policies. Rather, as I believe is currently in place, there should be avenues for communication between administration and students. This allows two sides to be heard, and helps keep a balance of power.

High school is a formative period in everyone’s life. Nobody performs perfectly, and there should be no expectations of that. Too much independence provides too much risk to students for the possible benefits to be worth it.