Counting down to the last day of school, as students do it

Today is the last day of school in Seattle public school. My friend the seventh-grade teacher told me that students count down to the last day of school in a rather unusual way.

Some people might count the number of calendar days until the end of school. For example, if there are 35 days between today and the last day of school, we say that it's 35 days until the end of school.

Others might count only the number of school days before school is out. If today is Monday, and the last day of school is Friday, then there are five days of school remaining.

But students, or at least seventh-grade students, count the days differently.

First of all, you don't count today. Because today has already started, so you may as well treat it as already over.

Next, you don't count the last day of school itself, because nobody gets anything done on the last day anyway, it's basically just one big party.

Also, if there are any half-days or days with early dismissal, don't count those either, because days where you aren't there the whole day don't count, because the class periods are so short you don't get anything done.

Similarly, days with special events like a field trip don't count.

Furthermore, you don't count Mondays, because on Monday, you're still fresh off the weekend and you won't be concentrating on school anyway.

Conversely, you don't count Fridays, because you've already mentally checked out.

The result of all these calculations is that the students will cheerfully calculate that there are only 25 days of school left, when it's still only late April.

Comments (23)
  1. No One says:

    By that metric, especially discounting days when I've mentally checked out I think I averaged about 7 day a year in high school.

  2. Vernon J says:

    That's just bad math.

    Vernon J

  3. Avi says:

    @Vernon J

    By what definition of Math does the exclusion of days count as "bad"?

    Creative accounting is not bad math.

  4. James Curran says:

    I'm not buying it.

    As I see it, a student is going to count any day they have to get out of bed, and sit in a desk, as a "school day".  

    Now, I can see a teacher or administrator not counting days that the students have "mentally checked out".

  5. kog999 says:

    While browsing this blog entry at work I clicked on your Friday link, as I often click on the links you posts. I was unexpectedly greeted with the rebecca black video. Fortunately I was able to close the window while that video was still loading. Having that song blaring over my desktop speakers would have been quite the embarrassment.  I have taken the precaution of disabling the volume on my computer so as not to have such a close call again.

  6. alegr1 says:

    By the way, Raymond, I have a suggestion/complain slightly tangentially related to this topic.

    Can you change you blog template to show real dates of your postings in the list, instead of "N days ago"? That would be GRREAT!

    [I have no control over that. -Raymond]
  7. There are 40 weeks in a school year; 40 * 7 = 280 days.

    The first day of school doesn't really count, so there's really only 279 days.

    You're only in school for eight hours a day, or 1/3 of a day; so there's really only 93 days.

    There are eight holidays:

    Labor Day

    Veterans Day



    New Year's

    Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

    Washington's Birthday

    Memorial Day

    So there's really only 85 days.

    You get five days off for spring break, so there's really only 80 days.

    You get Saturday and Sunday off, which is 80 days.

    So school is an illusion.

  8. Gabe says:

    Does anybody have a meaningful English translation of the German link?

    [It doesn't really translate well since it's a German saying. "Freitag nach eins macht jeder seins" literally translates to "Fridays starting at 1, everyone makes it his own." A more idiomatic translation might be "Friday after 1 is me-time." In other words, everybody stops working at 1pm on Friday. -Raymond]
  9. dimmik says:

    But sometimes they count hours or even minutes…

  10. James says:

    The "school days" example doesn't actually provide any clarification since it doesn't span a weekend.  People using calendar days would compute that as 5 too.

    I'll go sit in the nitpicker's corner now.

  11. JamesNT says:

    Of course, the best part of all this is some of those kids probably feel entitled to a job with a six digit salary from Microsoft once they graduate from college.


  12. AP² says:

    @JamesNT: I don't see why not; the Azure outage showed that Microsoft programmers have problems with calendar math too ;)

  13. Phineas says:

    There's 104 days of summer vacation

    And school comes along just to end it

    So the annual problem for our generation

    Is finding a good way to spend it

  14. Ian Yates says:

    Maybe Raymond has started a new thing: I was Black-rolled.  I was suspicious of the Friday link, and like @kog999 managed to stop any noise before the video played.  Ctrl+W was my friend :)

  15. Anonymous Coward says:

    That's almost opposite from how we used to count, which we started oh about a month before the Big Day. We counted the weekend as one day, since there'd usually be some homework, and we counted half days as full days since we still had to be there part of the day and there'd usually be homework, so there would be too little free time left to get anything done. Getting stuff done to us of course meant hobbying, like finishing a drawing or going to the woods together. School didn't particularly generate any sense of accomplishment in us; as far as we were concerned it was just a prison for kids and we counted the time it robbed us of.

    Although we didn't count the last day, because yes it was one big party where the older pupils would organise silly April Fools Day like stunts and torment the teachers, after which we'd get the rest of the day off. And we didn't count field trips, but that was because like holidays they were the kind of things you counted towards.

  16. Programmerman says:

    @Ian Yates: The text of the link said "Fridays," the link went to YouTube. I'm not sure what else could have been on the other end of the line. :)

    I, for one, applaud Raymond's use of a year-old meme. I might have to send that around the Twitters again this Friday for "funsies." Where here, the "funsies" are the reactions from all of my "friends."

  17. cheong00 says:

    Safety rule added: Don't click non-Microsoft links here while you're at work.

  18. jk says:

    I suspect similar arguments could be used to relate developer estimates to real schedules ;)

  19. Nitpicker's corner:

    Last post, you said "to understand it further, we'll need to look at another consequence of control ID conflicts, which we'll take up next time." This is next time.

    (I know… "Next time I talk about this" rather than "Next time I talk". Pre-emptive snarky comment rebuttal: It's a joke!)


    Given that these statements are true:

    1) Knowledge is power, AND

    2) Power corrupts, AND

    3) The function of a school is to give knowledge.

    We can draw the conclusion that schools are corruptive.

  20. Gregory Kong says:


    Heh. Maybe schools in other parts of the world. American schools (or at least the public education system) seem to be all about affirming the student and boosting self-esteem, rather than beating knowledge into him if necessary.

    I know, major oversimplification and painting with a very wide brush, but that's how I feel reading some of the nonsense coming out from educators in the mass media.

  21. Over here, public schoolboys tend to act as a toastrack for the other schoolboys, or are the ones using the others as a toastrack.

    On a more serious note:

    The "state schools", which are run by the Local Education Authority tend to focus on hitting targets, at the expense of actually educating (e.g.…/84469.aspx)

    Voluntary Aided (and the now obsolete Grant Maintained) schools liked to impart knowledge, and you would often get a more educated person out of it, as well as good pass rates

    Public schools teach you either how to become an MP, a permanent secretary or an officer of Her Majesty's forces.

  22. Gabe says:

    Lockwood: Based on your terminology, I'm going to guess that you're in the UK. What Raymond called "public schools" are schools run by the local government. They are free to attend (paid for with tax revenue) and open to the public. You might call these "state schools".

    The US also has "charter schools", which are run by private organizations. However, like public schools, they are free to attend (paid for mostly with tax revenue) and open to the public. This sounds like the equivalent of what you called "Voluntary Aided" schools.

    Lastly, there are "private schools", also run by private organizations (often churches). These generally require tuition payment to attend and may be selective about admission. These are what you call "public schools".

  23. @Gabe: Yes.

    I always find it funny seeing the difference between a US Public school and a UK Public school.

    Did y'all go to public like me?

    Excuse me dear boy, but I was educated in the finest public school in the land.

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