I have mentioned before that when I was a kid, I hated it when the cicadas began their yearly song; it meant summer would soon be over and I’d be heading back to school. This usually happened during the first week of August. Summer break ended after Labor Day. I still remember the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as I contemplated the dwindling number of days before the first school bell rang.
Nowadays the cicadas sing much earlier. The kids in New York’s public schools have barely had time to forget anything they ‘learned’ before the cicadas are in full voice. Instead, the onset of back to school commercials, magazines and sales at places like Target are what signify to the kids that they’d better have fun and quickly – school is just around the corner. I am SO glad my kids don’t need to lament the day the calendar changes to August.
I swore to myself that this year I wouldn’t write about the whole back to school frenzy. I wrote about it last year. What more is there to say? But I’ve been sucked in by the sheer volume of information. For example, front and center on the August Issue of “Big Apple Parent” (which I don’t read because I find it condescending and insipid) is the title of their main article, “After-School Activities Resource Guide”. Because god forbid kids come home and just play or relax and (gasp!) do nothing. Hey parents, less than a month of summer break left! Soon your kids will be returning from their 7 weeks spent at sleepaway camp. Get those day-planners out and make sure there is not an iota of ‘down-time’ during which they might do something on their own.
And once again we must suffer through the whole ‘should we extend the school year so that kids don’t forget what they’ve learned over the summer?’ debate. In which no one ever suggests that perhaps the reason they ‘forget’ this stuff is that they never learned it in the first place. In which it never occurs to anyone to wonder why kids can recite entire sections of dialogue from their favorite films, months and even years after having seen them, or tell you in minute detail about their favorite parts of their favorite books long after finishing them, but have trouble remembering how to calculate the circumference of a circle after 8 weeks. Hmmm, maybe it’s because they really don’t care much about calculating the circumference of a circle. Which will not be remedied by keeping them in school more days out of the year!
I expect to see more and more articles discussing charter vs. public schools, admissions processes, new testing regulations (basically there will be more of them) and any and everything else related to the looming school year.
It gets old. It’s the same thing every year. No fresh perspectives, no points of view from those of us who don’t live and die by the school calendar, no real solutions to the same never-ending problems.
Walking home today after making our Monday run to the Waffles & Dinges truck on Broadway (best dessert on the planet and by itself worth a trip to NYC), we heard the cicadas singing.
And I found myself smiling at the sound.