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Editorial: For parents, teachers, and kids, it’s back to school
About politics and other thingsAugust 28, 2013 | 1,393 views | Post a comment
If there were no schools to take the children away from home part of the time, the insane asylums would be filled with mothers.
-- Edgar W. Howe
As the new school year begins, teachers brace themselves for the marathon ahead: Ready or not, school is back in session!
Some parents rejoice because, as much as they delight in spending time with the kids during the summer, now they find relief: Someone else is taking care of the kids during the day.
Students are of several mindsets. Some have the jitters and experience stress over the transition from a summer of leisure back to the structured routine of school. The little ones may have real anxiety about leaving the security of home and the familiar routine for something new.
Older kids are either ready for the new experience after a summer of sleeping late and being bored, or they want the lazy freedom of summer to last forever. A precious few will cherish the opportunity for intellectual stimulation.
I don’t know if kids today experience the excitement and anticipation that we used to know as the new school year kicked off. In all likelihood, they probably do not place as much emphasis on this “first” as we used to. Mine was a sheltered life, living on a farm in a rural area. Summer meant a lot of outdoor free play for the younger ones. For the older siblings (I grew up as the oldest of nine children), summers meant working on the farm and in the fields.
Naturally, going back to school meant a welcome break from work, although school presented its own challenges. We began with a long, hot ride on the school bus. But school meant seeing friends that we had not seen all summer.
It meant school supplies -- nothing like today’s long lists of backpacks, folders, and other sundries -- but a notebook filled with clean sheets of paper. Paper without printing on either side was something to be cherished because you didn’t waste paper. You wrote on one side and then turned the page over to write on the back. Nothing was wasted. You quickly learned to “make do” with what you had.
Today, all too often we are giving young people “cut flowers instead of teaching them to grow their own plants.” A teacher I know wrote that quote by John W. Gardner on the board in her classroom on her first day back to school.
Another friend laments about all the free school supplies. Instead of showing appreciation for what they have, she said, the kids want and demand even more. They learn to expect their “rights” instead of learning to accept responsibilities.
When they get something for free, they come to expect even more. Now they can stay on their parents’ insurance until they turn 26. We should not be surprised if they morph into adults content to allow the government to provide for their every need.
As parents, we should help guide our children through life, being careful not to give them everything they want. We must teach them the difference between wants and needs if they are to become responsible adults. We help them cope with stress and to solve difficult problems, without sheltering them from the consequences.
Issues today include problems that we never even imagined. Parents and teachers must watch for signs of bullying, especially on social media, and keep lines of communication open with their children. Together with teachers, parents strive to inspire and motivate.
Were it possible, every parent and every teacher would remember the words of William Butler Yeats: Education is not filling a pail, but the lighting of a fire.
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