THE STATE OF THE SCHOOL YEAR (ACCORDING TO THIS OLD MAN)

I am an old guy.  Not super old.  Not the oldest.  But get me out on the basketball court, and see what I mean real quick.  It is the fastest thing I do – show how old I am!

I don’t know everything, though you are not likely to guess that reading here.  (Insert laughs…)

However, I have been around some.  I have seen many things, heard many things, and many things were handed down to me.  Things I find pertinent to our discussion of whether or not to send kids back to school.  Things I don’t hear others factoring in to the debates.

First off: I sense that there are passions here in this issue driven by political interests which take precedence over other (more important) values and interests, and then which blur the issue.  I think that.  Could be wrong.  Maybe you have perfect sober-minded judgment on it, and I don’t.  That is possible, but the observations I am about to bring up, are not, to my knowledge, being factored into the discussion.

Second off:  I wish we had just half the interest, expense, energy, and focus on beating back and preventing this virus as we did in building a wall to keep out illegal immigrants.  I wish we had taken more seriously the measures to stop school shootings two decades ago, and I notice that politics blur that issue too, and that we send our kids into high stakes, life-n-death scenarios every day.

So, on the one hand, why not put your kids up on the altar and sacrifice them for a few lessons in reading, writing, and arithmetic?  What’s the fuss???  Do I speak up so that I can shore up support for my candidate?

No.  I don’t have a candidate.  So, that ain’t it.

If I did, it would be the wear-a-mask;defund-the-wall candidate.  But if you think that makes me a Biden guy, think again.  I am not enthusiast for democrats, liberals, and certainly not the people who seem to rise to the ballot.

No.  I would vote or Jesus, if Jesus were on the ballot.  But he is not.  And that is not how you put him in charge anyway.

So what does this old guy, with this kind of political interest (or lack thereof) have to say about education and schools this fall?

(So glad you asked.  If you are still reading this, please collect five brownie points!  In fact, take them all.  No one else is reading here.  No point letting them go to waste.)

I hear “in the media” the constant question posed to public health experts, “Is it safe to send kids back to school this fall?” or “What needs to be done to prepare for kids back in school this fall?” or some variation on that idea.  And I keep hearing these experts outline LIKE POLITICIANS a long winded response which always tends to feature numerous cautions and precautions, but that never quite comes out to say, “no” or “We can’t safely do it.”  It sounds to me like they are afraid to state the obvious, and/or they are trying to dodge the question.

We know, and all the arguments against this are superfluous, ridiculous, or have basis in lesser concerns than life and limb, that this virus is spread through the air (mostly) between people in enclosed spaces and that the bigger the group, the more likely the spread.  We know that to mitigate this, since it is highly unlikely and relatively impossible to eliminate the risk, that we must avoid such scenarios as much as possible, wear masks as much as possible, and wash our hands almost constantly.

School, especially for little kids and young people, is almost completely antithetical for such precautions.  The younger the kid, the less likely they are to even understand; the older the kid, the more likely they are to throw caution to the wind.

The proponents of opening schools this fall all talk about how we want to avoid having a “lost generation.”  That is certainly a terrible thing, alright.  I don’t want to lose a generation either.  But I think the wrong side of this debate is using that phraseology.  The only way another semester or even two is going to create a “lost generation” is if they all die, and the reopening of schools this year is where that risk is found, not in closing them.

Keeping kids out of school poses other problems.  Those problems are real, and they have lasting consequences.  I will not deny that.  But those consequences are not the added risk of life-n-death to our children and young people and the spread of pandemic.  No.  Just the opposite.  And right now this virus is the big deal, not the other problems, even if they are related.

When I was a kid, it was common – COMMON – for parents to hold their kid back a year in school, not for academic concerns, but for athletic concerns.  I knew a lot – A LOT – of kids who repeated the fifth or sixth grades so they would be a little bigger, stronger, and more prepared to play football in Jr. and Sr. high school.  And there were some who repeated a year for academic reasons too.

I am not saying there were just thousands upon thousands, but definitely dozens upon dozens!  Maybe more.  And no one was calling foul on it.  And some of the biggest football heroes in our communities today spent two years in a grade just for those glory days.

My grandparents, and especially their parents, faced issues of whether to complete high school at all.  The farm had need of their hard work!  This is the whole reason we have summers off in our system today!  The kids were not all available to this new fangled thing we called school.  Certainly not year round!

I am living proof, by the way, that after a mediocre academic performance in high school, and taking a few years off between my freshman year in college and my sophomore year (to grow up and mature as a young adult) that such a mediocre student can go on to graduate at the top of his class with “highest honors” in college.

IF we hold our kids back on a mass scale for just one or two semesters, the academic fall out is just mythical.  We have a much more unique circumstance today with distance learning to help our kids maintain a foothold on their academic path.  I understand that such is inferior to in-person learning.  I agree with that.  I have chafed at the idea that you can get a whole degree on-line a long time before this pandemic came along!  And I wonder where all those proponents went just now!  But I feel sure, we can maintain, and in some subjects still advance, with the distance learning.

I know that every single kid who takes one semester or even year off to learn and maintain through distance learning will not thereby become infected by the virus or get shot at school!  The life and limb of our kids is worth more than our politics!  I think they want to live, and they need parents and wise ones to guide them in it.  Putting the “in person” learning on hold for a few months does not make a “lost generation.”  That is a hoax.

Yes, I agree there are problems that develop from it, but at least those problems are not dead kids and exploding spread of virus.  And right now, for this year, that is our top issue.

IF, we took this virus more seriously, we could have nipped it in the bud.  It only takes two – three weeks of concerted effort to all but eliminate it from the world.  But as long as we don’t have that, THEN we will have all those other problems with the economy and everything else, AND we will have dead kids, and wider spread.  All that for want of concerted effort.

The children of Israel could have left Egypt and headed straight to the Promised Land, if they had not been so obstinate.  In just a few days/weeks they could have fulfilled their destiny if only they had become of one mind, one heart, and one body of people trusting YHWH.  But they did not, and that became forty years of wandering.

I think any idiot holding indoor rallies should not have any say in putting my kids in an indoor “learning” environment with a whole lot of other people.  I don’t trust my kids to such lunacy.  I spend a lot of time, energy, and money making wise choice for them, and sending them into that fray… well, maybe they have work on the farm to do this year… Huh?

Let’s talk about next year.  That makes sense to me.

Not this.

7 comments

  1. Tim McGee · 26 Days Ago

    Please send me my 5 brownie points. 🙂

    Everything is political. Everything. This issue is also economic (which is the MOST political of all things). If kids can’t go to school (little ones anyway), how can mom and dad work? If they older kids can’t go back to college, how will the colleges make money? So it can be considered that kids not going back to school is akin to another shutdown. Economically, that’s devastating. Politically, that is perhaps the one thing someone can’t shake loose from in this November’s election.

    And the mask-hating-freaks … that’s not economic at all. That’s only political. So we need to help them get past that first. And the the socioeconomic political wars can begin in earnest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · 26 Days Ago

      Tim! (So glad to have you…)

      I think every word you typed in this comment is right. This is a political/economy thang. You didn’t use the word Trojan Horse, but all the talk about “lost generation” and how desperate we are to get our kids back to their studies “IN PERSON” despite a raging virus isn’t really carrying the freight it claims, but is smuggling in the other.

      And as I noted, there are OTHER concerns and consequences for our decisions. This is that At least.

      So in a sense, I am only addressing the one flank. The smokescreen part of this discussion.

      I am motivated to write on this because I have kids of school age, AND because I have family who are worried that if my kids miss school this year, they are going to miss so much education! Fall behind… all that. So in THAT discussion (which the blog is not a part of, but is addressing anyway), I am hitting the stated concerns head on.

      Education has been a mess for a long time too, actually. So this isn’t the first day of that.

      My dad always spoke fondly of the old fashioned one room school house. And when I was a kid, we had one of those still operating in our district. First thru sixth, I think. It was way out down in the canyon.

      A student in that environment shows up to school the first year and learns what he learns AND WHAT HE IS GONNA LEARN (so said, deal old dad). The next year he shows up and LEARNS WHAT HE ALREADY LEARNED, what he is learning, AND WHAT HE IS GONNA LEARN. And that continues to the end. Always getting the current study AND the big picture AND getting in in repetition.

      Dad always noted that the boys who took us to the moon grew up in that kind of education.

      Somewhere along the way, we improved the hell into it.

      I seem to be off subject now, but I think when we soak in a big enough picture on this that we begin to appreciate the humble nature of that experience AND perhaps a few important details to go with it, we find that all the specialization, all the anonymity, all the rotations of the current system may download a lot of information efficiently, but human souls are ground up and spit out in the process. Humanity is not efficient.

      I think a year off, or a year drastically changed, is not too much to ask, given the current state of affairs. AND I hope we can make some permanent adjustments for the better too. Society as a whole needs a revamp. I don’t think hardly any of us were happy going into this crisis. We knew a lot of misery a year ago, but this year, more and more just keeps coming to light. And… funny how politics and the economy are so interwoven into all of that too.

      We don’t want no filthy immigrants crossing our borders. But it was white people (largely) of faith (largely) who came in here at the start and ran off all the red people. Then we rounded up a bunch of black people against their will and forced them in here to work for a bowl of rice a day. Now we have built such a fine society on that kind of foundation, that and words like “equality” and we have gotten stinking rich from it. And suddenly we don’t want it spoiled with immigrants and black people need to learn their place (so goes the wisdom of this). (I am overly simplifying of course.)

      I say we need to value our kids more than we do. And the humanity of our neighbors. Even the pagans can understand that. Yet that is very close to the kingdom of God.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tim McGee · 26 Days Ago

        We can blame a little virus science can’t yet stop. We can blame an economy that is too fragile to stop. We can blame politicians who cannot stop running for office.

        In all of it, it is clear we are unable to stop. We run in every direction to avoid stopping. We are always on the chase. Stopping is contrary to the chase. The chase has no true goal, so we cannot even stop to define the goal. Just keep running.

        But Jesus says “rest in me.” God begs our trust in Him. Our mammom tells us the same. But we trust the mammom and not the One who begs for our trust.

        Until we turn to the Lord, we cannot fix any of this. Instead, we just endure as best we can.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Agent X · 26 Days Ago

        Powers and principalities.

        Wright has a fantastic quote on this. Kinda long, and so you don’t hear people just trot it out because it is a bit cumbersome for that. But he talks about “forces” in the world that we can’t see. Us modern types are apt to say that too. “Forces?” “I see no forces…” True, But ask any politician; ask any economist. It was economic forces that pushed us into that last recession… that last war… that last [fill in the blank]…

        We can’t see them. We don’t want to acknowledge them. But when it comes time to blame, “forces” or principalities and powers are always there. St. Paul has a lot to say about them.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Tim McGee · 26 Days Ago

        “No one else was in
        The room where it happened
        The room where it happened
        The room where it happened
        No one really knows how the game is played
        The art of the trade
        How the sausage gets made
        We just assume that it happens
        But no one else is in
        The room where it happens”
        (From the play, “Hamilton”)
        Sorry, this popped into my head because I just watched the play on Disney+ the other day.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Agent X · 26 Days Ago

        Don’t apologize! Just get some more brownie points. You earned them.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Agent X · 25 Days Ago

    One other thing, Tim, that comes to mind suddenly.

    I am NOT sure whether my senior year in high school was a waste of my time, though it really might have been. But I am sure it was a waste of tax payer money! No doubt about that.

    Like

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