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:
- 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.