When I was a kid we had twelve weeks of summer vacation. School got out the first/second week of June and resumed after Labor day. Then, while I was in high school though I forget which year exactly, they proposed a new schedule giving us only ten weeks of vacation, and people flipped their schnitzel. Starting back up in August?! But…but…but… THE FAIR! The county fair was the last week of August! People had long-standing family traditions of going to the fair all week, and now the school district was asking families to send their children to school during the best week of summer?! They were not going to stand for that!
People threatened to pull their kids from school from that week. They declared that, school or no school, they would be going to the fair anyway. They stomped their feet and gnashed their teeth and make a huge fuss. But the school district changed the schedule anyway. And as far as I know, some parents did take their kids to the fair for a day or two instead of sending them to school, but life otherwise went on. School got out the second/third week of June, we went back the last week of August, and everybody pretty much got used to it.
But people, it is a slippery slope. I am here to tell you that they are at it again. The new proposed schedule for the 2014/15 school year has just been released. And it proposes only EIGHT WEEKS OF SUMMER! That is less than two months! Summer is 3 months! Not 2! This is insanity! I am angry! At least that’s how I felt when my wife told me about the proposed change.
Look, if they do this thing, school would start August 20th. My anniversary is August 23rd, our wedding date specifically chosen so that people would not be in school yet and be able to come to the wedding, and so that we could take a trip or have a big celebration every year on that date. Are they trying to take that away from me? And how are kids supposed to concentrate on school when it is so hot out? This is madness.
And I am not the only one who was upset. Many of my friends and neighbors are furious. I have already been invited to sign a petition and join a Facebook group protesting this new schedule. And yet… Once I calmed down and realized that the school district was not, in fact, doing this to ruin my anniversary, I started to look at the big picture.
For one thing, summer doesn’t actually make any sense. I mean, why do we even have a summer vacation? Well, the answer is “so your kids can help out on your farm.” Do you have a farm? I don’t. If you are a farmer who had a bunch of kids in order to help you out on said farm in the summer, then I understand your frustration. But the fact of the matter is that kids forget things over the summer. Countries with shorter, or no, summer breaks, have students who retain more information and end up learning more. So a long summer break is actually bad for our kids, learning-wise anyway.
Also, as I examine the new schedule, the kids aren’t actually going to be in school more, it’s just that their breaks will be spread out. We would get a week off in October. We would have a longer Christmas break. We would get the whole Thanksgiving week off. We’re not actually losing anything. It’s just moving around.
But it feels like we are losing something, and I guess that’s the problem. Humans do not like losing. And they do not like change. People like to stay where they are and be comfortable, even if it is bad for them. We humans are the creatures who bring you Stockholm Syndrome, The Devil You Know, and battered wives defending their husbands. We humans, while trying our best to be logical, are highly emotional beings who often think with our hearts. And sometimes this is a good thing. But sometimes it prevents us from moving on to a healthier and better system because of sentimental attachments to the old one.
Change for the sake of change is almost never good, but tradition for the sake of tradition can be equally harmful. The important thing to do, if we are able, is to step back a bit from our initial, emotional response, and examine the facts, thoughts, suggestions, potential outcomes, and goals in a logical way. Now that I have gotten over my initial knee-jerk reaction, I think that this new schedule is probably better for our kids, even though it is personally annoying to me. So I’m sorry to my friends and neighbors who are upset. I still like you, and I am still sad about my anniversary, but it might be time to say goodbye to summer vacation.