Saturday, August 30, 2014

School Supplies, Therein Lies a Great Angst.


Last week I wrote about the end of summer. When I was younger, the year was divided into two separate, but unequal parts, Summer and School. Now that I drive one of those yellow buses part time, the year is again divided into those two parts.

Summer is fading quickly and School is approaching like a freight train, loaded with pencils and paper, that is late for a delivery to Walmart. School supplies, therein lies a great angst. 



When my children were in grade school, it made sense to get five, one-inch binders, in the five different colors that the teacher specified, because when the teacher wanted to teach the science lesson of the day, he, or she, simply would say, “Students, we are going to start our science unit for the day. Please clear off your desks and get out your purple binder, three sheets of paper and a pencil.” Simple and easy; no difficult directions. Each student took out his or her 2 and 3/8 inch, purple folder and was ready to study science. No student accidentally pulled out an English folder, or math folder, or last week's tuna sandwich.

I suspected that as the children progressed from elementary school, through middle school, and into high school, the lists of school supplies from teachers would become less and less specific.

I was wrong.

Littlest is a Junior and Middlest is a Senior at our local high school. This means that they each have over a decade of experience in a formal learning environment. They have figured out how they learn the best, they know what systems of note taking and keeping work well with their learning styles. Additionally, they are female--females with highly developed senses of personal style.

Yet, there are still teachers who want to dictate what size and color binders they should use and how many pens and pencils they should have on their desk at all times. Sometimes I think that some of these high school teachers are secretly “wanna be” elementary school teachers, but were unable to teach well enough to be entrusted with our most impressionable, malleable, and, eager to learn students.

In the past, the school would send home schedules a week or two before school started. This would allow time to correct errors in the schedule and then to figure out what items the teachers would require the students to have, and then to go shopping for them. At this late stage, most of the items in the department store were picked over and more often than not, Beloved and I would have to go to an office supply store and pay top dollar for some purple 2 and 3/8 inch binder.

This year, our local high school has developed a new schedule and rather than sending it home, in an effort to “go green”, they were simply going to hand out the schedules on the first day of school.

This  schedule is quite complicated and never-before been done by our high school. It is something like an eight day, six block, rotating schedule; honestly, I am not sure exactly what they call it. The best way I can describe it is to imagine watching the Olympic diving competition on television. The diver prepares to dive, the crowd hushes, and the television announcer’s voice quietly and intensely narrates, “Now the high school schedule is up to dive. This should be an eight day, 6 block, rotation, with a double gainer, and a half-pike.” The diver leaps off the board, executes a blur of twists, turns, and somersaults, before straightening out, just in time to plunge head first into the water. Finally, the exultant diver emerges from the pool, all wet.

As for myself, I am partial to that age-old standard dive, the belly flop.

Many students and teachers believe this schedule will be a flop, the administrators of the school believe the schedule will be graceful and score high marks.

My daughters believe that it’s all wet.

Either way, I foresee more shopping.

Oh bother.