Hopes, dreams wait for their school busSam Cook column: It’s a new school year, and those first few days are always dicey. So many unknowns. So many risks to take.
By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune
Every morning, I see them standing in loose knots on street corners, waiting for the school bus. Sometimes, there will be a mom or dad standing taller than the rest, making sure a little one gets on the bus without incident.
The back-to-school kids stand, mostly peacefully, with their backpacks and their vacant stares, their fears and their hopes.
It’s a new school year, and those first few days are always dicey. So many unknowns. So many risks to take.
Will she like me? Do these pants look dorky? My teacher seems mean. Who is that new kid? I’m hungry. I hope Calc I isn’t as hard as my brother said it was. I hope Zach doesn’t pick on me at recess.
That’s a lot to carry besides a backpack.
These first few days are always chaotic. Your kids come home from school exhausted. A kindergartner I heard about this fall got dropped off on his family’s long country drive with his older sisters after school. Wiped out, he sat down to rest. His sisters went on, only to return later to find him asleep on the drive.
Kids burn a lot of energy ramping up to the new school year.
Teachers, too, I’m sure. A lot of jostling goes on in these first few days. New classrooms. New teachers next door. New textbooks to teach. New demands from on high. New technology to learn. Too many kids in a classroom. Bright kids, struggling kids, talkers, bullies and the quiet ones that always take a while to figure out.
And, yet, there you are, up in front at the helm of your ship. It’s up to you to make up for what we parents didn’t do at home, to turn this next generation into the best and the brightest because we know for darn sure China and India are cranking them out, and these little people in front of you are going to have to compete in that world.
All of us are feeling that pressure now — teachers and principals and parents and kids. We’re feeling it because schools are getting graded these days. Nobody wants his or her school’s name in the paper on the list of Those Who Didn’t Measure Up.
We hope that we’re still educating kids, not just grooming them to pass tests. We hope we’re still inspiring them to read and wonder and create, not simply memorize and regurgitate.
I hear about terrific teachers. A college student tells me about professors who helped shape his life and his aspirations. And I have hope.
Then I hear about the child who has daily mountains to climb just to get herself to school. And I wonder. What are her chances?
That’s what I think about when I round the corner and see the kids and the backpacks at the bus stop.
Maybe it was always this way. Long before school backpacks came along, some of us had to sit with our heads covered in the hallways in case the Soviet Union launched an atomic bomb on us. Somehow, that gave the multiplication tables a whole new perspective.
Sam Cook is a Duluth News Tribune columnist and outdoors writer. Reach him at (218) 723-5332 or scook@ duluthnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at “twitter.com/ samcookoutdoors.”