(Images: Author’s Collection)
There was a time, believe it or not, when Summer Vacation consisted of June, July and August. But somewhere along the line, some so-in-so in some state or municipality concocted a way to ruin this experience of having some healthy time off, and I haven’t figured out why. About the only thing I am sure of is the fact that this was, most likely, for the benefit of school administrators and not students. This is true of elementary schools as it is of high schools. In fact, let’s work backwards a bit for the sake of accuracy.
Schools let out sometime in May, as I recall from my own storied childhood. This meant more early morning rising’s to gather baseballs, gloves and bats, to pedal bicycles off to the nearest and safe baseball diamond – usually situated on a school property. Maybe it was inconvenient. But to whom? Yes, there was Summer School for those students who either wished to speed on ahead and graduate a tad sooner, or the student for whom classroom teachers simply didn’t have time to back off the throttle a bit to ensure that all 29 or 30 pupils understood what was being taught, and by that I mean “taught well” and understood.
In recent years, retail stores have come to reflect this inane push, this rush to life with Halloween items being hauled out and onto store display shelves in late July.
Christmas items began following in August, and by September it seemed no one could get through the year fast enough, that is, fast enough for it to be over. What is all this hurrying about? Moreover, what cost does it come attached with? It seems that the scales are a tad unbalanced. Healthy functional families require time to plan, to converse, share and plan for those enjoyable activities that offset the more serious rigors of the classroom.
Extracurricular activities have been cut. Physical Fitness: no longer a requirement; it should be.
No one can argue that we have more and not less discipline in society today than we had twenty years ago. And yet, it feels as if we’re on a mission to kill the fun, cut the time off to relax tired minds and refresh ourselves for the coming new Fall schedule of teachers, school books, organized classrooms and maybe even injecting a bit of fun back into the classroom again.
Learning should be fun, if not enjoyable. But the harder we push ourselves, the less we have to show for such general appreciation as the beauty of nature, viewpoints that challenge (or confirm) our own, learning a new sport, or even understanding how to keep score of a tennis game.
Teachers have less and not more power to do their jobs. In at least one state, a Governor added insult to injury by breaking a teacher’s union; I still haven’t digested completely how or why he would do this in good conscience — if he had one. To be certain, parents have failed at home and teachers are summarily blamed for what should have been taught with love and respect in the household. This becomes particularly true when some societal ill materializes on the pages of our regional and national newspapers. We can ignore and we can push for less, but whose purposes – again – are being served?
There is a time for work and play that is constructive and healthy. This adds balance to life. As complicated as world and even community matters are at times, why worsen that complexity with “rushing” through life as though it were a race, when in fact, it’s a process in the life cycle? These are all questions worthy of our consideration — once we slow down.