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  • Why Is Friday A Day Off?

    Posted on December 5th, 2013 Bartley No comments

    Since my first open letter seemed to resonate with most people, I took the opportunity to send my student another letter at the end of the semester.

    I’m often asked, like I was today, “Why aren’t there any classes on the Friday before exam week?” It’s a fair question. Although you may hear other answers, I (unsurprisingly) believe mine to be the best. Therefore, below is my answer to this question, a justification, and a challenge.

    Historically, final exams were much more important than they are now. Now don’t read that to mean they aren’t important; that is very much not the case. However, in the early days of higher education, final exams were often the sole measure of a student’s success in a course. Forget about graded homework and quizzes; those didn’t come around until much later. Those early colleges and universities instituted a “reading day.” During that day, before final exams, students would spend time reading their assigned texts and preparing for the onslaught of academic pain that was sure to befall them the following week. In our vernacular, “reading day” should be interpreted as “study day.” This leads me to my answer to the central question. There aren’t any classes tomorrow so that you, the students, can take the entire day and devote it to study and reflection, in preparation for final exams. Sure, there are additional methodologies to grade your work these days, but final exams are still, at least in my mind and in my practice as an educator, extremely important. Not only do they measure what you’ve learned over a semester, but they gauge how well you’ve learned the required material.

    Even in a course that does not build into a following course, college is the opportunity for you to learn as much as you can in a controlled, supervised environment. It’s your job to take this responsibility seriously. Do that, and rewards will follow. While you may earn good grades, the fulfillment that comes with being able to display 16 weeks worth of new knowledge is practically unmatched.

    So this is my challenge to you, my students. Take this Friday seriously. Use it to study; use it to reflect. Use it to remember how little you knew 16 weeks ago and how much you know now. Use it to get excited about the spring semester; think of how much more you’ll know after another 16 weeks.

    -Dr. Richardson

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