Summer is officially here, though not quite yet for schooled children (at least in New York). Even without a calendar, however, you’d know the season was approaching by the sudden influx of articles on how to prevent “summer learning loss”, that dreaded syndrome whereby children ‘forget’ a certain percentage of what they ‘learned’ in school.
Rather than go into all the reasons that summer learning loss is more an indicator that what happens in school does not equal learning and therefore what happens in the summer is not ‘learning loss’, I’m going to suggest some other things we might do well not to forget.
For example, let’s not forget that children are human beings, fully formed though not yet fully grown. They are not robots to be programmed or statistics to be manipulated. They are people and deserve to be treated as such.
Let’s not forget that because children are people, they are each unique. No one child is exactly like another and we should not act as though we are dealing with a very large set of carbon copies. We should not attempt to standardize our children or their learning. It is inhumane and in any case bound to fail.
Let’s not forget that no one can see the future. Because of this, the only sure way to find success in life is to follow your passions and to encourage your children to follow theirs. Even if their passions don’t require anything beyond basic math, they are still worth following. Nobody ever came to the end of their life and said, “I’d have been happy if only my parents had forced me to take Calculus.”
Finally, let’s not forget that all we really have is today. Nobody believes that, of course. We always think there will be many more days to come, so it’s ok if we brush off our kids, dismiss their ideas and force them to “do as they’re told” today. You’ve all heard someone say, or maybe you’ve said it yourself, “Some day they’ll thank me for it.” I don’t want to be mean to my kids now in the deluded belief that they will somehow be grateful for it later.
Later may never come.