While easy to dismiss, schools and parents would be horrified to know what teens think is more important.
They’ve made it. 13 years of education from K to 12. Infants, Primary and Secondary school. It’s not so much a preparation these days but a fully fledged student career and while University or TAFE may appear like the hardest yards yet to come, that’s actually a breeze compared to what they’ve already endured. They know it too.
So what do we assume will be their focus as we embark on the last half of their last year? Easy – books, study, cram, exam! Push for the marks, ranks, positions and all of the fruits of this 13 years of labour. Right? RIGHT??? BBBZZZZZZZ! Wrong!
If you’re a worried parent or teacher, you’d better sit down. A recent survey of over 10,000 senior students from secondary schools all around the Sydney Metropolitan area, both state and private, girls and boys, returned a statistic that shocked even the analysts. 97% of them stated that when it came to their immediate priorities (Sept to Nov) the School Formal was more important to THEM at that time than the H.S.C.
While, at face value, one would be forgiven for remarking that this couldn’t possibly be right, however that would be “Parent and Teacher” thinking. If we take a moment to adjust that perspective to that of the average 17 year old, these priorities can shift quite dramatically.
While the formal isn’t officially part of the state curriculum, smart educators are beginning to recognise that it’s one of the most significant social-development aspects of school life, and, at least from the perspective of the teenage formal goer, the most significant social event of their lives up to that point. Through their eyes, this is a big deal and they treat it with that level of gravity.
Even those who place a balanced measure of priority to the formal and the exams may still be fastidious enough about their vision for the formal to rob study time to dedicate it to fashion, transport, or, in the case of formal organising committee members, planning the intricate aspects of the actual event on behalf of their classmates.
In any case, it’s clearly a battle between the two aspects of their lives during that time, and there’s no way to gauge whether one adversely affects the other.
One would suppose that it’s unlikely to be easy to alter this in their minds, however, finding ways to assist in their formal planning process will doubtless help minimise the impact on study time and hopefully results.
As a teacher or year advisor, organising the formal is a role you’d take on hoping to shield them from being distracted from study. The problem is that they have to have some ownership of how their big night goes. Finding a balance between the research and the choices is your job.
Things like security, contracts, insurances, legal issues, compliance and so forth are areas of the formal that teens find no interest in, and if students are left alone in charge of these aspects, will be overlooked I guarantee it. What they want is control of colours, flavours, textures and music.
These are the things that are fun to arrange and choose, and have no significant impact one way or another to the success of the formal no matter which way they choose.
That leaves the rest, and the most difficult aspects, up to you. Don’t let them down!