Schooldays – Part Deux

by Dave Bittle. 0 Comments

For all those parents out there who, like me, were NOT lock, stock and barrel academic shining stars, who found school, with all its restrictive restrictions, strenuous expectancies, and wordy books altogether off-putting, you now have a second chance to gain anew a different perspective on the institution that trounced, all those years ago, all over your wobbly self-esteem. A second chance to redress your sullied record of callow deeds and scant achievement.

This opportunity comes to you, the parent, in the form of a steady-stream of tedious writing assignments, enigmatic mathematics drills, chafing diversity awareness projects and ruthless science fair challenges, collectively providing the modern day parent a sort of schooldays do-over. An opportunity to achieve – both directly and vicariously — like you never have before. Yes, it seems our kid’s school experience is now ours, too, like it or not, furnishing an out of the blue opportunity to sink or swim once again. Ugh!

Unfortunately, I don’t really want a second chance. Been there, done that. In fact, I’ll unambiguously concede to being an utterly wayward student. To my mind, school never held much charm — class of 82, slacker division, first round pick. Early on I reached the flawed conclusion that school was an obstacle to, and not a vessel for, eventual success. Therefore I wanted none of it. Its walls made me feel trapped and claustrophobic, prompting reckless compulsions to run, again and again, with wild abandon.

Yet, there I paradoxically hunker, night after night, hour upon teary hour, spell checking, report writing, journal keeping, and mathing—wrestling with the very same long-division, algebra and geometry with which I wrestled thirty-eight years ago, with scant success, then as now. (In the spirit of full disclosure my wife does most of the heavy lifting here, though I am called on to assist often)

This quirk of fate, I’m sure, is not lost on my parents (or my teachers if only they could see me) either. That I, hater of all things homework and repressed scholarship would be undertaking homework assignments to excess with my young daughters is something to behold no doubt.

Indeed, the sheer magnitude of homework the kidos are allocated these days is overwhelming. Youngsters of all ages stagger back to the homestead with rucksacks full of the vulgar stuff. Meanwhile, it seems they can neither begin nor finish the punch list of teacher-requisitioned drills and exercises without steadfast oversight from, and supervision by, moms and dads who are by this time already ensnarled in various domiciliary oughts.

Prompting many parents to ask just what exactly are the children doing in school all day anyway? And to further ask, might the elimination of the umpteen get-nothing-done half-days, state school assessment days, “Teacher Professional Development Days” and “Staff Work Days” make available more time to load up on astuteness in the classroom, where it’s supposed to be cast forth in abundant quantities during the six hours they’re in the custody of the county?

And might the elimination of the many watched movies, pointless assemblies, pajama, spirit, and crazy hair days give way to more time for classroom scholarship? Thus eliminating the need to bring home all that vile busywork, in those overstuffed book-bags, for parents to supervise, audit and become familiar with?

Perhaps. But we endure the homework we’re given, not the homework we’d like. So shine we strive as parents this second time around. Not only making sure the dreadful homework assignments are complete, correct and on time, but impressive — just one look at the varied, and accomplished science fair projects (comprised of mini particle accelerators and not-so-mini home-grown DNA genome projects) reveals the comprehensive extent to which parents, ever eager to make the best of their second chance, are involved in their kids various homework assignments.

Yes, during this second chance occasion we are nearly everything we weren’t the first time around — bookish, absorbed and unrebellious. Just as important as redeeming our own dreadful academic performance, is making sure our kids learn the essential skills necessary to get a job and ultimately provision themselves, too. These days too many kids are moving back home, disenfranchised, unable to find jobs and freeloading off their parents — we don’t want that, no siree. Someday we’d like our house back, and our lives, too.

So as the school year draws to a close we have many things to be thankful for, not the least of which is an intermission from the enormous and unrelenting quantities of homework and attendant fatigue. So go play. Enjoy the pool, the day-trips, and the beach. Have fun with your kids, spouse and friends. Because in my county summer vacation is only nine weeks long, and when it’s over – sigh – it’s back to school and the resumption of all those wretched homework onuses. Ugh!

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