Friday Activities are Utterly Pointless

Friday Activities are Utterly Pointless

Advisory Activities Fail at Intended Purposes

By Rohit Dilip

On many Fridays throughout the school year advisory classes are required to participate in the “Friday Activities.” These activities were designed to help students across grade levels assimilate and get to know one another, to promote better decisions, and overall, to address several non-academic issues students had.

These activities also fail miserably at addressing these areas.

Although it’s immediately obvious that students often need help from a non-academic standpoint, a weekly group activity is possibly the worst way to go about aiding students. The rationale of the activities, as Irvington principal Ms. Smoot explained, is “The Friday activities would be community building opportunities to give students across the grade level chances to talk with each other. That’s evolved to address awareness about global issues; lesson planning to prepare for safety, and last year and this year we’ve worked on the character issues like cheating and plagiarism. It’s an opportunity for instruction that’s not taking time out of the core academic classes.”

While the intentions may be good, I have to question the logic behind the activities. Character issues won’t be solved in a twenty-minute discussion. If students really have character problems, they should feel comfortably going to a teacher, counselor, or other adult. One-on-one help would be far more effective. In a group environment, students are pushed to solve these problems alone, since opening up a character flaw can be awkward and embarrassing at best.

With regard to community building, Friday activities do very little for inter-grade interaction. Teachers often elect to lead discussion, which results in students listening rather than discussion. Students don’t often interact outside of their grade level as a result of the Friday Activities. There are far better ways to achieve this type of interaction—clubs, for instance, give students a way to meet and talk with people outside of their grade levels.

Students don’t suddenly start interacting outside of their age group from a twenty minute discussion; the Friday Activities clearly fail at this purpose.

The Friday activities ultimately serve a placebo effect—they convince people that students have the opportunity to come forth with non-academic problems. Although several other schools have periods mirroring advisory—Mission, for example, has the Read Period—none have activities meant for such purposes. This isn’t because of a lack of originality, it’s because the Friday Activities serve no valid purpose in Irvington.