Note: WordPress was having issues yesterday and I was unable to post this. Here it is now. I hope.
Yesterday, as I was on my way to my last class, a student stopped me and handed me a piece of paper. The piece of paper was an official note challenging an absence I’d given him earlier in the term.
Unfortunately he’d chosen an excuse that was impossible for me to believe.
First you have to understand that in the school where I work it is possible to fail, at least in high school. One of the guaranteed ways to fail is to miss one-third of the classes for the year. From this there is no salvation. If students fail based on low scores, they can take make-up exams and get passing scores.
This particular student has never been a particularly good student. When I had him in class last year he was bad and this year he just started skipping every other class. At his point, with three classes left in the term, he’s already failed the term because of absences. He can only afford four (possibly five, long story) more absences or he fails the entire year.
Because of this, he approached me with the challenge note and explained that he’d actually been present in September on a day I’d marked him absent. He said he’d been in class, but had merely been in the wrong chair.
Now, there’s a lot that’s wrong with this excuse. First, he’s not the quiet type. If he were in the class, I’d have noticed and told him to get back to his seat or get out. If he were in the USA he’d have been put on drugs years ago. In Japan he refuses to sit still and inevitably walks around and talks to his friends.
I’d do that because, Second, the classroom is small and the only seats he could sit in besides his own would be in front of me.
Third, I can count and would notice the class was full. I would also call out his name if his chair was absent and at least seven people would have pointed him out to me and I’d have told him to get in his seat or get out.
Fourth, he chose a day when I was handing out the official “textbook” pages. (Long story.) If I’d thought he was absent, I would have set aside a paper with his name on it and given it to him the next time he was present. The odds of him having that paper with my handwriting on it are very high.
I conferred with his homeroom teacher and explained my argument and he said. “it’s up to you.” I rejected the challenge and don’t expect much follow up.
The funny part is, because he’s late a lot, if he’d said I’d marked him absent because he was “in the toilet” for 20 minutes I might have believed him. Instead he chose poorly.