Reasons are different than excuses


One of the first rules you learn in school is “no excuses.” No, your dog did not eat your homework. No, it doesn’t matter if you had a prolonged practice after school. No, a busy afternoon and a lot of other homework does not give you permission to neglect the homework that you were given for a different class. 

Now, clearly, most of these are unreasonable or are obvious lies—dogs have apparently been eating homework and doing their owners a solid for decades by now. However, there is a difference between an outlandish excuse and a solid reason for abstaining from accomplishing something, and more people need to recognize this. 

First of all, I would like to clarify that I do not appreciate excuses either. I don’t think someone should forgo doing a reasonable homework assignment just because it was their aunt’s birthday, for instance. But, if, for example, their beloved pet had serious surgery during the afternoon, then it should be acceptable for their assignment to be a day or two late. Their pet’s life is more important than a school project. 

However, there is a difference between an outlandish excuse and a solid reason for abstaining from accomplishing something, and more people need to recognize this.

There should be a clearer line between an excuse and a valid reason. From a very young age, schools have ingrained into us students that school comes first, period. I personally have been a victim of this mindset on multiple occasions. I remember one time I had to skip a close friend’s going away party—they were moving out of state, and it was likely that I wouldn’t see them again soon, if ever—in order to complete a project for school. 

Given your stance on this issue, perhaps you would agree that it was right for me to skip in order to preserve my grades. And, you are right that high school grades are important—except, I was in fifth grade during this time. Is my fifth-grade report card more pivotal than saying a permanent goodbye to my close friend?

Me giving a meaningful farewell was a rational, sound reason for possibly not doing as well on my assignment; especially when considering how young I was and how little those grades matter. Yet, I couldn’t let go of that mentality.

When reasons are confused for excuses, it is unacceptable. I am focusing mainly on the student’s and the school’s role in our lives, so to continue with this example, I would like to point out that while not all teachers do this, there are some who do not see the difference between reasons and excuses. Whether teachers implement this thought process purposefully or subconsciously, there is a simple solution: put yourself in the student’s position and clarify to the class the difference between the two rather than merely hanging up a sign reading “No excuses” with no further explanation.

To a certain extent, I agree with the statement “No excuses.” Excuses are unsatisfactory and useless. But, I think there should be a new saying: “Have reasons, not excuses.” Sure, it doesn’t have that same ring to it, but it gets the correct point across, and I think it could catch on. It could greatly improve students’ mental health and their grades, as well. 

Yes, school is important, but not always the most important thing in life. More people need to recognize this.