Ah, May's here. It may well be the greatest month of the year. The days are long and the weather's perfect, flowers are blooming and birds are singing. May is a time of new beginnings and the heady expectations of summer. Winter is over now -- you survived, barely, and now it's time to enjoy the finer parts of living.
Yes, May is a good time of year for everyone. But it's an especially good time for kids. Once May first hits, kids can feel the tortuous school year coming to an end. Less than two months to freedom, to camp or a summer job -- to whatever, so long as it doesn't involve insufferable teachers and monotonous classes.
Enjoy it while you can, kids, because some adults are trying to abolish your summer break, once again proving they have absolutely no idea what's good for young people.
Last week, British Columbia introduced new legislation that does away with mandatory school calendars. If it's passed, schools in the province will be allowed to design their own schedules -- that is, while the number of school days will remain the same, schools will be allowed to decide how to divide those days over the course of the year.
Translation: OMIGOD, THEY'RE TRYING TO GET RID OF SUMMER VACATION.
Why? Why would they do this?
In typical adult know-it-all fashion, they're saying it's for kids' own good. Studies apparently show that going to school all year makes kids smarter, healthier and happier. An article earlier this week in the National Post explains there's this thing called "summer slide" -- basically, during the summer kids forget all the stuff they learned during the school year. Also, the article says kids get fat in the summer because they're sitting around watching T.V. and eating junk food all day, which, OK, might be true, but so what?
B.C.'s stupid Education Minister, George Abbott, who tabled this ridiculous legislation, says, "What we now have is a pretty strong case that children learn better when they don't have a long summer break, that a shorter period where they're away from school is better."
Obviously kids learn better when they're in school. That's what school's for. But you know what else happens at school? Kids' souls get crushed, that's what. By the end of the school year (my own) personal studies have shown, the student brain has reached a state known as "totally fried." Just one more day of school beyond the current 10-month schedule and the human child would be rendered incapable of having any fun ever again. Is that what adults want?
The article also quotes Joan Hamilton, who is the evil principal of a devil-school in Toronto that has already adopted the year-round schedule: "Come August," she says, "kids are looking for things to do."
If Hamilton is insinuating, as I think she is, that the "things" kids are looking to "do" in August involve going to school, she must be completely nuts. Seriously, someone should check if this woman is on drugs. In reality, in August kids are trying their hardest to think about school as little as possible, because even the slightest, passing thought about the coming school year causes actual, feel-able pain. In kids' minds, there is a moratorium on school-related thinking that stretches from the end of June to the exact moment on the day after Labour Day when the bell rings.
But fear not youngsters, you have a most unlikely ally on your side: the very teachers and principals who make your lives miserable 10 months out of every 12. They don't want all-year schooling either -- presumably, 12 months of teaching and punishing and boring assemblies would make them even crabbier than they already are, if that's actually possible.
This unholy alliance is the best chance at ensuring the future of summer vacation. And it's an institution well worth maintaining. Kids will learn soon enough that in the adult world there's no such thing as getting two months off just because the weather's all of a sudden nice.
For now, they should be allowed -- encouraged even -- to experience the pure joy of self-discovery that can only occur when there are no teachers around telling them what to think and do all day.
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