Goodbye, Summer

Not just my summer (although that's fading alarmingly fast.)  Maybe yours, too.  This week TIME magazine mentioned our President and Education Secretary's predilection toward year-round schooling.

There are some cool things about summer, like:

  • The beach. And, fine, the pool is an acceptable substitute.

  • Cold beer and grilled bratwurst. By the light of a lantern in the evening.  When you don't have to get up early and teach the next day.

  • Friends. Yes, I know you can have friends anytime, but we don't get a chance to socialize much during the school year.  And I've eaten more steak in the last month than in the whole school year prior.  Most recently in a Guinness-curry-chocolate sauce, which was most swoon-worthy thanks to Jim.

  • Sudden drenching rainstorms. I've loved these since before I stopped being afraid of them.

And there are some dumb things about summer, like:

  • Mosquitoes.

  • Summer camp (I'm not referring to a week or two in a cabin with spiders, canoes and campfires, building character.  I'm referring to the obsessive to-the-moment schedules of many kids, who go to so many specialized camps they hardly have a day to themselves.)

  • A non-agrarian society which doesn't really need summers off anymore.

  • A dumber population. Sorry, it's true: look around, and you'll see we are far below the standard in Asia and Europe.  By contrast, a test at Jersey City High school in 1885 contained the following questions.

Find the product of 3 + 4x + 5x2 -6x3 and 4 - 5x - 6x2.

Write a sentence containing a noun used as an attribute, a verb in the perfect tense potential mood, and a proper adjective.

Name three events of 1777. Which was the most important and why?

(Here's the killer: it was a test for admission to high school.  So the kids taking the test were 8th graders.  I'm a high school math and English teacher, and I don't think I could answer any of those questions! Taken from The Bell Curve.)

Bottom line: I think summer school is a great idea.  Shorter terms, maybe four per year, with holidays between.  Yes, and we should also adopt the British system of calling vacation "holiday."  It sounds so much classier.