After all these years he still lookd at school from the perspective of a student. He is by now a university professor. He dishes out the lessons rather than receives them as he once did many years ago. And yet, come these times, he still feels the mix both of dread and expectation.
He misses the freedom of summer, its arbitrary cycles. He should not feel this way at his age. That is true. His professional life should have made him impervious to summers. The seasons should not make that much difference to him. He should be just as busy any day or season of the year. But more than 20 years of teaching and being s student for just as long previous to that has changed him in a most profound sense. His emotions react to the cycle of semesters.
He could say it reacts to them as a teacher. But that would be inaccurate. Much more to the point if he said he reacts as a schoolboy. More gender sensitive if he said his emotions react to the semestral seasons as any schoolchild.
And for any schoolchild these first days of school have particular markers that need account. The child wishes for the summer to last forever. And yet, the prospect of school also holds its own measure of excitement. And all these have something to do with a balance of new and old things: for some a new school, a new set of uniforms or lack thereof, new classroom, new classmates, new books, new bags, etc. There is truly a sense of a renewal of everything, even, a sense of confronting the unknown. A new chance at life. Which will not last long of course.
In time, the schoolchild knows that all these pale as one begins to lean back on the old things. The things that remain the same even as some things change over the seasons. For instance, old friends who go elsewhere back to hometowns or home cities even perhaps another country in the summer months. There will be reunions, there will be sessions at favorite watering holes, movies to see, old things to do at old well-worn comfort places to get over the required depression that must come with going back to school.
Especially after a long wonderful summer. Summer is real. It is real life. There is something not quite “real” about school. Here, teachers teach and explain theory to a set of children they only theoretically know. The children come here to prepare themselves for a future they cannot really pin down into a concrete vision. Will the things they learn here ever be useful in real life?
Not to worry. Real life is something that has yet to occur. It is something for the future. In the meantime, there is the make-believe world of school where schoolchildren make-believe that the future he or she are going into is now already beginning. But who can be sure of it?
The teacher gives good advice by saying, Do what you enjoy. Enjoy what you do. School is ever the best place for finding out what the schoolchild enjoys best doing. It will be what he or she could do best in real life. School is for finding out things. Especially those things not found in books and lesson plans. Here we find out secrets found only inside the schoolchild. They are secrets that always have to do with making for one’s self a wonderful future and a meaningful life.
And yet how funny it seems that we find these secrets passing through the most unlikely pathways and avenues? Who can tell what things may be learned by learning how to work and play with numbers? And who can tell what secrets are revealed by learning how to read and write in your own or another language?
And what about plotting a point in space? Figuring out the area or volume of anything, what can that tell us about life, death and love? And if we went into a discourse of aesthetics or learned how to paint a landscape on bond paper using crayola, would that help us in the future?
Who can tell? All have yet to begin tomorrow.