According to Sam and Jim Commenting on things that irk us off, make us laugh out loud or just seem too weird too believe According to Sam and Jim: Going back to school is cool

Monday, September 12, 2011

Going back to school is cool

Sam and I wonder why so many people seem to think they have to hate school? Now that school is back in session in most areas, I see several cartoon strips where the kids in them dread going back to school; examples this past week included the venerable Peanuts, Stone Soup, Zits, For Better or Worse and Non Sequitur, to name a few. Two strips that looked at returning to school in a positive light were Baldo and Baby Blues. And incidentally, the strips with something positive to say about school featured girls happy to get back to the ABCs – not boys.

I think we Americans have brainwashed ourselves into thinking that school is a bad thing – for whatever reason – possibly because many adults didn’t do well in school and they have passed their bad attitudes on to their kids and it has become a national mantra. It’s like so many people automatically accepting the premise that cafeteria food or hospital food or military mess hall food is inedible gunk. But some of the best food I’ve ever eaten was at a hospital and in a school cafeteria. When I was a kid in school I jumped at the chance to work in the cafeteria for the free food, which I considered to be as good as or better than my mom’s food.

But therein, apparently, lays the rub. Most institutional food haters seem to come from the, my-mom-was-the-greatest-cook-ever legions. School-haters, by and large seem to be negatively influenced by under-achieving fathers. And, so many kids, especially boys, who act up in school for whatever reason – ADD, ADHD, etc. quickly become labeled by their teachers as underachievers, become neglected, and wear their negative labels for the rest of their lives.

These, of course, are just my personal theories. I have observed through the years that the kids who are most enthusiastic about school are the children of parents who have positive attitudes about school and who take an interest in their children’s schooling – whether that means attending parent teacher meetings, serving as volunteers on the playground or in the classroom – whatever. Helping kids with their homework in an enthusiastic manner also seems to play a big part in kids’ attitudes about school.

Then there’s this whole negative mantra of public schools not being as good as private schools. Maybe that’s true in some cases, but certainly not in all. My experiences in public schools were, for the most part, positive. In fact, I was definitely in the minority when it came time to graduate from high school, because unlike most of my peers, I liked school and was not happy about leaving. I’ve also experienced first-hand with my kids the good, the bad and the ugly parts of both public and private schools. The worst thing I did to my children during their school years was not to imbue them with the enthusiasm and ambition to succeed that I should have. To their credit, they succeeded in spite of me. But if you want to know how parental enthusiasm and ambition for their kids pays off in school, just look at the high achievements of many of the minority kids whose parents came to the United States from other countries, especially Southeast Asia. Those people know opportunity when they see it.

Sam and I say three bags of poop on bad attitudes about school.

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