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A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE
We are coming to that season in the year when schools do a lot of peculiar things to rally support for various causes or to mark festive occasions.
I’m referring to Red Ribbon Week at the end of October, aimed at promoting intervention in drug abuse among all demographics; homecoming celebrations, at which schools welcome their alumni for reunions; and the “Pink” events that help raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research and support for those fighting the disease.
All of these are important. All of them have their place on our calendar. All of them deserve our attention. All of them play a significant part in the education we offer our children.
We want our youngsters to understand what drug abuse is, how to recognize it and how to combat it in community and home. We want our younger generations to learn from their elders and celebrate the careers and successes of those who have gone through the school system before them. We want children to know what breast cancer is and to understand that it can be intercepted through early detection.
We want all of these things for our children. We want their fully rounded education to include real-world issues, so that they are better prepared for what lies ahead in the many years that follow their schooling.
We must surely understand that every minute spent in the classroom is of vital importance to every child, and that proper focus on the material in front of them can be the only way they absorb the vital information and develop the skills that may give them a chance to advance, to take control of their futures and to become responsible leaders.
I just have deep concerns over the peculiar ways in which schools have chosen to do it.
There are days on the calendar marked as “sunglasses days” when children “shade out drugs,” as though this really makes any sense whatsoever. Isn’t shading something out tantamount to ignoring it?
There are days when children can wear their pajamas to school, and a host of reasons for this particular absurdity, as though this is something perfectly normal in the adult world.
Have you ever seen a bank manager, a restaurant chef, a truck driver, a band director, an aircraft engineer, a city administrator or a television newscaster show up for work in pajamas?
No. You haven’t.
Aren’t we making a mockery of issues that should actually be learning opportunities? Are we really putting children into an environment conducive to study by letting them dress up in sleepwear?
There are rallies to raise awareness of breast cancer. They take place at appropriate times and places. People wear pink to show their support. I think that’s good. We all need to shatter the taboos and talk openly about the issue.
There are films, educational presentations, testimonials, genuinely informative materials and teaching tools out there to help fight the scourge of drug abuse in our communities and to make parents and children truly aware of how it manifests itself and how to find help if it reaches us.
There are days when students wear their school colors or mascot emblems to show pride in the place where they do their learning and to demonstrate their unity. A sense of belonging and of ownership in one’s school is vital to valuing the education one receives there.
Given the choice between creating a distraction in the classroom, making some token gesture that has little or nothing to do with the issue at hand, and giving the children the education they need to make informed decisions in later life, I can’t imagine I’d choose Pajama Day.
As for those who think “Mardi Gras Day” is in any way a fitting celebration for the school environment, I have to ask: “Do you know what those beads mean nowadays?”
I support our schools wholeheartedly. I know what it takes to work in one and how difficult it is to teach. I also know that children will one day remember and truly value every last piece of information that helped them survive in the adult world and in the workplace.
Schools, I beg of you, stop being stupid with the few critical hours that the children are in your care.