So this new tradition of “back to school,” here in this future world of the 21st century, is a bit puzzling to me. Back in my time, we didn’t make that big a deal about the start of school. We didn’t have stores holding “back to school sales” two or three months before the actual start in September. Nor did we have whole industries devoted to the particular needs of education, from book editors and publishers to pad and paper makers, manufacturers of arts and craft supplies, and computer software providers, to name just a few.
And we certainly didn’t have all the hoopla and anxiety-producing pre-opening rituals that parents, teachers, and students all must undergo, including orientation, last-minute training, staff meetings, curriculum conferences, pedagogy seminars, class scheduling, webinars, required reading assignments, goal-setting, room assignments, pre-registration, strategic planning, ordering supplies, emergency contingency discussions, and the like. It was, all in all, a much simpler time.
I do realize that much has changed since the 1700s, and not simply school. Society in general has become so much more complex. So it’s no wonder that education has evolved similarly, changing into a veritable hodge-podge of complicated preparations, requirements, and expectations.
In one way, this is good. Personally, I always used to enjoy throwing myself into the fine details of any project I had undertaken. I could plan, prepare, and “put together” with the best of them. In fact, the democratic government which you enjoy today was in large part due to the many proposals, negotations, and discussions I was involved in, when we founding fathers were first giving birth to this country. The devil was truly in the details, as we used to say.
However, there is one aspect to all this that I find a little disconcerting. All of this back to school frenzy does very well for the practical side of things (and, believe me, I have a well-earned reputation as a practical man!), but it somehow appears to neglect the “fun” side. Those who know me, and my love of witticism, jesting, and the more light-hearted side of life, can easily see where I am going with this critique.
Perhaps the best thing we could do for all of those panic-stricken, anxiety-ridden students of today is to put a little more fun back into the educational process. Of course, we wouldn’t be able to take away all the worries and fears leading up to the start of school — nor would we have 100% of the students clamoring to rush back into the classrooms — but I daresay we might make the experience a bit more positive, pleasant, welcoming, and enjoyable for them.
Your humble servant,