A Utah Republican legislator has proposed scrapping senior year of high school to save state funds. “According to the unwritten constitution that governs ordinary American life and makes possible a shared pop culture that even new immigrants can jump right into after a few movies and a trip to the mall, the senior year of public high school is less a climactic academic experience than an occasion for oafish goofing off, chronic truancy, random bullying, sloppy dancing in rented formalwear and interludes of moody, wan philosophizing (often at sunrise while still half-drunk and staring off at a misty river or the high-school parking lot) about the looming bummer of adulthood,” Walter Kirn writes in the February 28, 2010 issue of The New York Times magazine. “In films like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Dazed and Confused and High School Musical 3, senior year is a do-little sabbatical from what is presented as the long dull labor of acquiring knowledge, honing skills and internalizing social norms.”
“It’s a spree, senior year, that discharges built-up tensions.” Kirn, author of Lost in the Meritocracy, likes the Utah plan.
“My hunch is that nothing will happen,” he writes. “Nothing much.”
“Just the loss of a year when nothing much happens anyhow.” He might be onto something.
Conservative scholar and scribe Russell Kirk once suggested three-year colleges because most of them can’t offer four years of productive study. On the other hand, maybe some seniors could use that time for remedial coursework to cut down on the remediation rate in college today.
Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.