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Learning by Doing
Learning by Doing (Photo credit: BrianCSmith)

Every August and into September you hear it, that old worn out, trite phrase “back to school“. And what do you hear in the same paragraph? Retailers are hoping for… or some other commercial, financial, or corporate talk. Geez whizz already… a little off the main course, aren’t we? (And I am not talking about a big banquet, either.)

It reminds me of the advertising and talking up people do for weddings. In the bridal magazines are advertisements for gowns costing thousands of dollars, for honeymoon vacations, for limousine rentals, for rings and shoes, for the bridal party, for photographers, for reception favors and for gigantic cakes.

One might forget that the purpose of the wedding is a ceremony uniting two people, for the start of life together, for what those who attend can hope will be bliss, happiness and a good family life for the couple. Just as this goes to the retail pot every time someone talks of getting married, so this gibberish about back to school has become blown way out of proportion.

I mean, whose business is it anyway if some parents dress their kids in outfits costing hundreds of dollars, as a local news bit had on the radio today (so what, spend what you want on the kids and buy where you please- no one has to know). Whose business is it where you buy the school supplies– from the local small business drugstore or from Walgreens.

Back to school should be about one thing- getting an education and preparing to be a good citizen of this great nation. It is not uniforms, clothes, shoes, the latest gadgets, computers, cliques (or how to avoid being caught up in one), sneakers, jewelry, hair styles or anything of the kind. These kinds of things are about as meaningless as the junk on the census forms, the demographic junk that inhibits national progress. Back to school should be about getting to the bus stop safely, behaving in school, paying attention in class, and learning what you are there to learn. School is not about what you are wearing or what part of town you come from- that is no one’s business but your own, and keep it that way.

There are the basics of course- the reading, writing, spelling, geography, history, social studies, civics, language arts and such. There are the niceties such as dance, music, band, shop, sports, and cheerleading, if one is so inclined to engage in these activities. You can learn the computer, you can learn the cello; you can learn auto mechanics, or you can learn physics.

It is vital that parents or guardians tell the students about avoiding bullies, about not being a bully, about sticking to one’s own business, about proper behavior and about staying out of trouble. Give incentives for being good, and emphasize the purpose of school and doing one’s best in academics, in sports, in whatever the student engages for achieveing a well-rounded education. After all, the roots of education prepare the student to grow strong stems (STEM, of course), in the future.

EDUCATION: From the root words meaning TO DRAW OUT, MARCH OUT, or LEAD OUT. That is what happens- in school one’s talents are drawn out and polished and used with wisdom and knowledge; the student is thus prepared, on graduation day, to march out to destiny with their class, perhaps as valedictorian. They will not only lead out the others but then will be come leaders and begin the cycle anew- drawing out the talents and gifts of others and leading them to do their best too.

Begin your students on a lifelong love of learning, literally a path to a good life and being a good citizen. LEARN comes from the root -leisa, which stems from words meaning bed, garden bed, track, furrow or path. Learning is creating a map of skills, talents, and knowledge you gain and put together for use in any situation, any kind of plan or for accomplishing any goal throughout life. Is it all “academic”? You better believe it is!

A love of learning plants strong roots and builts strong stems. The school campus is merely a ground for those roots and stems to be planted and to bloom and to be fertilized and grow. The learning experience takes place outside the campus too, and in the world away from those classrooms and the gym and the lunchroom is where many of the best learning experiences take place. Live it, love it, learn it and keep on “educating” yourself and others.

Have a safe, pleasant academic year!

Divi Logan for EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, 2012. Please write for permission to use this article’s content to the author at in2intellect@hotmail.com. Thanks for your cooperation and courtesy.

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