Chuck's column: With school year nearly done, bring on Memorial Day
A few weeks ago, I was bemoaning the fact it was Labor Day.
Lo and behold! It's now Memorial Day weekend. My favorite weekend, beyond a doubt! I have fond childhood memories for this holiday weekend. I remember there was always a parade and a carnival at a place in my town we called "The Athletic Field." School had ended by then, and it was the kick-off to summer vacation. It was awesome.
Now? We still go to school for nine days after the holiday weekend has come and gone. Next year, we end on June 12. Have you any idea what it's like, at least in a high school, after this holiday weekend? When the temps are in the 80s. And the windows are a mere portal to freedom for the people who sit before us. Oh, these are the days that truly try a teacher's patience.
Frankly, many students are already looking for the towels they threw in weeks ago. Prom weekend was seemingly the official weekend for seniors to call it quits for the year. Yes, the remaining days ahead are by far our most difficult days for achieving a goal while continuing to hold the attention of the teenager in some meaningful fashion. Believe me, folks, it ain't easy!
Here's what I've always believed about the school year. When we get to this point in the year, the days in the classroom become more and more challenging. Primarily due to the weather and the simple fact the year has been a long one. I've thought for years now the three-months-on, one-month-off approach is the way to go. Different topic for a different time. In any case, it always has seemed to me (and many others I might add) that we need to stop by Memorial Day. Everyone is ready to flee. People are opening their summer cabins, and tourism season has begun.
By August, for years, students have told me they were bored with summer, and they wanted to see their friends again. Granted, none of them were ready for the homework, but they were ready to return, regardless. However, in this state, we're told we must not start school until after the State Fair, er, uh, I mean Labor Day.
Let's face it. The almighty dollar is a powerful idol. And starting school before the State Fair would impact fair attendance to some degree. On the flipside, wouldn't that "lost" money be made up by letting the same group of people and their families begin summer two weeks earlier?
It's simply easier to think about dealing with teaching in late August more than it is to do it after Memorial Day. No matter how hard we try, no matter how meaningful we try to make our lessons, we are dealing with KIDS and KIDS will always be KIDS. We only have so much to work with. And who can blame them for wanting to get outside now? Especially this year with winter having just ended!
It seems a lot of people have all these ideas for what's best in the classroom. Unfortunately, many who make the decisions are not now nor have they ever been teachers. Perhaps when I retire, I'll write a book. "If Teachers Were In Charge."
Oh well. It is what it is. Spring break is a long time ago. The kids will love sleeping in on Monday. Have a great Memorial Day weekend!
Next week, we'll talk graduation, and specifically, the Class of 2013.