The great scholar vs. student debate | Q&A for Mr. FW

  • Sunday, October 1, 2017 6:30am
  • Opinion

Q: Mr. Federal Way, do you think it is silly for Federal Way Public Schools to refer to children as scholars rather than students?

A: Mr. Federal Way thinks it is silly for people to call out the school district on what they call students, in general, especially when you take into consideration all of the things we call young people on a regular basis. Or is that just Mr. Federal Way? But, class, let’s see what the dictionary has to say about this matter.

According to the Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary, scholar is defined as “1. one who attends a school or studies under a teacher: PUPIL; 2. a) one who has done advanced study in a special field; b) a learned person; 3. a holder of a scholarship.” According to same source, student is defined as, “1. SCHOLAR, LEARNER; esp: one who attends a school; 2. one who studies: an attentive and systematic observer.”

So, there you have it, straight from one dictionary’s pages.

Federal Way Public Schools officials are absolutely not wrong in referring to students as scholars. But, really, that’s not the issue, is it?

While not inaccurate, just admit, constantly saying scholars, as opposed to the other “S” word sounds so … what’s a good word: highfalutin: “1. PRETENTIOUS; 2. expressed in or marked by the use of high-flown, bombastic language: POMPOUS.”

There we go, that’s a good word for it.

And Mr. Federal Way understands where people are coming from, especially when taking into consideration the qualities many youth have these days, especially teenagers: sullen, obnoxious know-it-alls without a clue.

As highfalutin as the word may sound, you can’t fault the school district’s rationale for calling kids scholars.

Oops. Not kids. As Mrs. Snow pounded into Mr. Federal Way’s head until he committed it to memory in ninth-grade English, kids are baby goats. Children, youth and offspring are acceptable terms, however.

Anyway, Mr. Federal Way digresses. By placing an emphasis on the educational aspect of their work and learning, scholars is not only appropriate, it’s a way for the school district to emphasize the value and importance these students have and the work they put in.

The “scholars” are not just drones for teachers to feed information; they are blank canvasses, undeveloped potential, where the sky is their only limit when accomplishing their dreams.

OK, so it’s doubtful the youth actually recognize the difference or care. Most are probably content with not being called “hey, you.” And, yeah, some won’t realize their full potential or become productive, contributing members of society.

But when standing in front of a bunch of faces, some fresh and eager, some tired and bored, which ones are you going to pick to fail? Which ones are you going to write off before applying ink to the page?

By calling them scholars, the message is clear, the tone set, the expectation established.

Call it what you want, but that’s not a bad thing.

Q: Mr. Federal Way, where have you been these past couple of weeks?

A: None of your business.

This column is staff produced. Got a question for Mr. Federal Way? Email

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