Originally posted July 5, 2017. A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook about her son’s concern that he won’t get into a good college if he doesn’t take four AP courses as a high school junior. (He’s taking two as a sophomore.)
I’m so old — how old are you? — that when I went to school, classes started after Labor Day and graduation was at the end of June.
If I wanted to play a sport, I signed up. If I wanted to be in an activity, I signed up.
And when school let out for the summer, that was the end of it until my parents said it was time to start school shopping.
Now, lots of schools start in late August, and, in Massachusetts anyway, graduation is the first week in June.
Playing a sport means paying a fee, since sports aren’t just part of the budget anymore.
And students take reading lists with them out the schoolhouse doors.
When vacation was a vacation
I don’t have kids, but I was a kid once. Really, I was.
And while I read a lot, I have never liked being told what to read. It’s why most of my reading for fun until adulthood was about sports, and I never read fiction unless someone told me I had to. (I still don’t.)
If I grew up with summer reading lists, maybe I would have read what was on the list, but maybe not. Maybe I would have waited until the last minute.
However, in those days, summer vacation was sacrosanct. It was about playing ball in the backyard, swimming at my friend’s house and my brother and I coming up with ways to pass the time. Sometimes, I even read.
School? What was that?
Yup, we had the “summer slide.” The first couple weeks or so of school was reviewing at least some of what we learned the year before. After all, we hadn’t touched it in three months.
But that was how it went. Because summer vacation was actually a vacation.
Teaching children to be ‘on’ all the time
The adult version of the “summer slide” is stuff not getting done at the office while we’re on vacation, or the emails stacking up.
So we check the work emails on our phones or grab the occasional phone call. We carve out a few hours here and there to work, or if it’s really bad, carve out a few hours here and there for vacation.
As bad as that is, we, as adults, have largely done it to ourselves. Either the people we work with or for put pressure on us, or we assume on our own that the office just can’t survive if we unplug completely.
Kids, however, aren’t doing it to themselves. Does anyone think they’d wantto do schoolwork on vacation? Did you?
No, by assigning reading lists, adults are doing it to them. Sure it’s probably not a lot of time as it relates to the whole summer — just like checking work email in the morning isn’t really all that much — but it’s teaching them that vacation isn’t really a vacation.
Imagine what their vacations will be like when they’re adults.