It's Six Word Saturday, and
It's that time of year again!
The summer is winding down, the sun rises a little later in the morning, and evenings are a bit cooler. If we lived in the land of trees, leaves would soon be dressing in wonderful colors before tumbling to the ground. It is also the time when schools are starting up again. That stirs memories in all of us of our own school days long past. How the years slip away!
As a girl growing up in the 60's in a small Midwest town, life was fairly simple. After a summer of playing outside, swimming at the nearby lakes and local pool, going on picnics, bicycling back and forth across town to visit friends, and devouring book after book for the Public Library's summer reading program, it was time to prepare for the new school year. I loved school and I loved learning, so for the most part I welcomed the approaching Fall.
August brought an out-of-town shopping day to find school clothes and shoes for my sisters and me. Girls were not permitted to wear pants to school back then, so skirts and dresses were the order of the day. Then came the exciting trip to the local variety store (otherwise known as the "dime store" or "5 & 10") for school supplies. I am amazed at what we could buy for five dollars back then... tablets, pencils, crayons, scissors, paste, a ruler, a small pack of Kleenex tissues, and of course the pre-requisite cigar box to store them in. There were no backpacks, we carried our supplies in our arms... and when we reached high school level we lugged heavy textbooks home for study that way too!
Back in those days there wasn't registration for kids who had attended before. You simply showed up on the first day of school with the supplies required for your grade level as listed in the local newspaper. If you lived anywhere in town it was assumed you walked to and from school, mom didn't drop you off and pick you up afterwards. It might be healthier if kids did a little more walking now!
Our school was a huge, old, three-story building constructed of granite blocks with many long narrow windows (which I was to spend hours looking out of and daydreaming as I grew bored with the slow pace of learning in the classroom). Air-conditioning was unheard of. It was miserably hot when school started in August, and just as hot when the term finished at the end of May, but there was always recess to look forward to, followed by milk breaks... chocolate milk if your family could afford five cents instead of three.
Our town at that time was large enough to require two classrooms for each grade, and sometimes three. The first day was always a nervous time... would you get the fun teacher or the reputed "mean" one, the young one or the one who'd been teaching since the dinosaur days? Would any of your friends be in the same room as you? Would you be seated at your desks in alphabetical order, and who would you end up next to?
The first few days were busy with learning the ropes and rules, then it was time to settle into the business of another year of school... and to begin counting down 'til Christmas vacation!
In retrospect, life was so very simple then, at least it was in my world. I know for many children the story was much different, a new school every year and sometimes mid-year, never the opportunity to settle in, make friends, or hit your stride. My heart goes out to them, and to the kids who really struggled in school, for whom it was a torturous experience. Teaching methods and classroom conduct have changed a lot since then, much for the better I'm sure, but I wish they'd still put some emphasis on the "3R"s... reading, writing, and arithmetic. I am horrified at what we see on job applications from high school graduates today! I also wish parents still taught their children proper classroom behavior so teachers could spend less time dealing with acting out and more time teaching. The same goes with over-zealous government regulation which as turned teaching into producing test-score results, rather than ensuring kids are actually learning something and developing a love of learning along the way.
I miss those old days, I think most of us do. The wonders of technology and the Internet have changed the process of education in ways we never could have imagined, but I'm betting that first day is just brings just as much excitement mixed with a bit of anxiety as it did back then! I'll be watching out for kids in the cross-walks in the coming weeks, I hope you will too!