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TIME TO THROW OUT THE CRAYONS

Getty Images/Flickr RF

Getty Images/Flickr RF

Isaiah Lynch, Student Journalist

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When I first enrolled in high school, I didn’t dare walk into class without a backpack loaded with every school supply item available from my local Walmart. I was going into public school for the first time in my life and I wanted to feel as prepared as possible–I still didn’t– which meant an army of school supplies had to accompany me so I could receive this feeling of security.

Impressed reactions from my peers and teachers were frequent – “wow,” “someone’s ready to learn,” “I’m glad you’re prepared for class” – and made me believe all this preparation was not only increasing my learning capabilities, but also letting me earn a reputation throughout the class as someone who is serious about his work (which only helped my ego). The last thing I needed was for the teacher to force me to the back of the class after sensing a lack of academic dedication.

It came as a surprise when I witnessed students from a different class carrying nothing but a few notebooks and some cheap pencils within their dirty JanSport bags. It came as even more of a shock when I realized they were seniors. “Isn’t senior year the hardest?” I had asked one of my distracted peers, but they never provided a solid answer, so I had to seek one out for myself. I started observing what the upperclassmen brought with them to learn and I became more confident of my deduction that seniors just didn’t use many school supplies. I know this seems like a small mystery solved, but to a freshman in high school, this was an incredible discovery. Did this mean that I too could abandon my heaps of college ruled paper, multi-colored folders and notebooks, collection of mechanical pencils and red editing pens, and mounds of markers and highlighters, while still maintaining good grades? I guess so, but I wouldn’t find out until two years later when given the option between new clothes or new crayons.

So, I started using heavy amounts of school supplies less and less. Though when materials for school are needed, everyone feels obligated to rush out and clear the freshly stocked shelves, this isn’t necessary for graduation. An article titled ‘How Much the Average Family Will Spend On School Supplies,’ published by InvestorPlace, states that families sending their children to school “spend an average of $634.78” on school supplies per year, which means that more students are following the same high school lie that I did: excessive amounts of materials will guarantee your success.

I suppose once you reach senior year the lie has worn off (or you’ve gone broke).

Students are dedicated to purchasing school supplies because we’ve been led to believe that excessive school materials are associated with good academic performance by retail stores that promote the supplies on their shelves every year. It is only after we’ve reached an age of increased maturity and wisdom (senior year) that we understand this isn’t needed.

You could argue that without school supplies you can’t accomplish anything in high school, which is true. I’m not trying to persuade anyone to completely renounce the use of any school related materials. I’m only stating that less materials are required for effective learning than most families realize.

You can pack your backpack until it weighs as much as your house, but that won’t ensure your academic success, and the many seniors who have chosen to carry less can vouch for this. This yearly tradition of competing with your neighbor over who can spend more money on school supplies doesn’t need to continue. The sooner families accept this reality and drop the unnecessary spending, the sooner  they can save their children the back pains and themselves the wallet strains and still ensure an opportunity for the success of their child.

“How Much the Average Family Will Spend on School Supplies.” Investorplace, 18 Jul. 2013,

http://investorplace.com/2013/07/how-much-the-average-family-will-spend-on-school-supplies/

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The student news site of the San Diego School of Creative & Performing Arts
TIME TO THROW OUT THE CRAYONS