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Michael Smolanoff
Woman on a Mission, Senator Ellen Karcher: Wife, Mother and Senator of NJ
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Etc - School Daze
08/30/2011 - By Eric Tucker

Etc - School Daze




Eric Tucker goes back to school


Considering that lost time is not found again, I’ve been thinking...

Should we make our children go to school in the summer? It may ease the dread of going back to school (I’m thinking of  the teachers here) by removing the summer break entirely. I’m just saying.

No doubt, most folks would answer with an authoritative "No! Thank you for asking." Fans of Schoolhouse Rock will  recognize the beginning of that authoritative response as an "interjection." I chose to set it apart from the sentence by an  exclamation point.You could use a comma when the feeling is not as strong. The younger generation might use an  emoticon frowny face :(, as a form of interjection.

Ah, my misspent youth, filled with lost time and wasted in front of the television watching the same stuff repeatedly. I  picked up some things by repetition, as exemplified by the Schoolhouse Rock reference above. Now, as one notices the pool water gradually cooling, it's time to pull our kids away from the televisions, video games, beaches, and street  corners. Summer vacation is ending. :(

One of the best weeks to stay at the beach is the first week in September. This is a moot point for anyone whose  youngest child (a.k.a. "the accident" or "the favorite" depending on the audience) is entering kindergarten, and whose  first child has yet to finish school. This select group of families gets to go to Target with a different list of school  supplies for each kid. Certainly there's a good reason the classroom needs so many tissues up front. I'll assume it's  because the boys won't have long sleeves available until the weather cools.

Classrooms trigger my day dreaming tendencies. Sure, many times it's hard to differentiate pieces of information I was not listening to from those I forgot, those I misunderstood, and those that others forgot to tell me. I’m now back in the classroom on what is commonly known as Parents Night (a.k.a. "Back to School” - or "Date Night" for couples who  don’t otherwise get out.)

I carry a positive attitude into the school, eager to learn what goes on during our child's day. Our kids, the boys in  particular, tell us nothing. The nightly discourse goes something like this:

Q. "What did you do at school today?"
A. “Nothing.”
Q. “Nothing?”
A. "Learned stuff."
Q "Like what?"
A "I don't know."
Q Who sits at your table?
A "I forget."
Q. “What did you do at recess?”


They think evasive answers deter me. But tomorrow is a new day with more fruitless questioning.

At parent's night, lamentably, shortly after the opening "Thank you for coming tonight..." I tune out quite by accident.  It's like when a waitress lists the night’s specials. I hear the first one and try to picture it. Meanwhile, she's on auto-pilot rattling off the dishes she's memorized. I can't conceptualize the first dish and listen to the following ones at the  same time. That's multitasking, which is physiologically impossible. Once I go back to listening I'm lost and then just  nod my head till she leaves and ask someone at the table what was said. When I'm driving with the family, I tune out  everything. If I notice voices trying to get my attention, I ask my wife to repeat what was said. The kids do that, too.  We always ask Mommy to repeat what someone else said when we didn't hear/weren't listening. (Try this in your home!)

Back at Parent’s Night, it's not long after I start pondering the teacher’s first bullet item that the classroom triggers a  Pavlovian response cultivated over 17 years of schooling and my mind wanders here, there, and everywhere. Once I  realize that I'm lost, there’s no getting back in the groove. I can't even ask a question for fear of looking like an idiot.  What's the point? I'll only forget what was said - and I can always ask Mommy what I missed.

One thing I picked up at these affairs is you can expect to find one of two types of teachers on Parent's Night. First,  there is the highly motivated teacher who is eager to employ the latest teaching theories. The second type is the one  who has taught before. No doubt, both types deserve our love and support to the extent that they don't grow  complacent.

The teachers deserving of the most praise, however, are those who assign the least amount of homework. Do their  pupils learn any less? Someone should apply for a grant to study that. Summer is a nice break from the blessing of overseeing homework.

When our little angel was in first grade, one of her weekly assignments was to cut letters out of magazines and paste  them together, like a ransom note, displaying the week’s spelling words. She did not persist at this pointless preschool task. It fell to me to do most of the cutting. I still can’t spell well, proving the exercise was pointless. Mercifully, her  younger brothers were spared that task.

In summary, it’s time for back-to-school. Compared to the Monmouth County Youth Detention Center, a possible  alternative, it’s not that bad.








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