Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Much Needed Vacation, Missing a Meeting, and Watching a Convention!

Written earlier for posting on Wednesday August 27, 2008

I've talked about vacation here before. Normally at this time of year, I would be on a "work vacation" at the Society of American Archivists Annual Meeting. This year the meeting is taking place in San Francisco, California. Those of you who are there, I hope you are all having a good time at the baseball game tonight. I'm sad not to be there, but I am making up for it with a few days "R&R" at the beach.

And here's some vacation tips that found their way into my Google reader, from Marginal Revolution, citing this post on this blog:
  1. Start packing early - Doesn't everyone? I have been known to lay out clothes several days in advance of trips.
  2. Keep a list - these tips are clearly for someone else. Who doesn't make lists?
  3. Spend money where it helps - well sure. Duh.
  4. Pack almonds - snacks are an essential with a three year old. He needs them just for a short car ride. But unfortunately, for now, no nuts. Cheerios, raisins, fine. But she recommends the snacks for the grown-ups, which is a good idea as well.
  5. Return a day early - sure it's hateful, but becoming more and more necessary. I would love to stay at the beach through Monday, but we'll be back on Sunday.
  6. Unpack right away - Again, who are these tips for? Mrs. BA, did you get all these?
We are also approaching Labor Day weekend, the unofficial end of summer. This means that school children around the country are running for cover. In New York, where I went to school, the first day of school always took place on the Wednesday after Labor Day (remind me to tell you someday about when I got my first teaching job). Back at the end of June, Time magazine had an article on "A Brief History of Summer Vacation." As a somewhat responsible adult, I long for the days of summer vacation, where one had not a care in the world, and the only worry was to go to the ocean beaches or the ones on Long Island Sound.

Unfortunately, the article points out, summer vacation has not always been around and it may even be endangered yet again. In the days leading up to the Civil War, school operated on two calendars, neither of which had a summer break. This was largely as a result of the agrarian economy, which permitted students to help with the harvests in the fall and the spring plantings. Students living in cities operated under a 48 week school calendar (that's only four short of a full year, people), with a break each quarter. The good thing was that school was not compulsory!

In the United States, school years average 180 days although schools in Asia, specifically South Korea and Japan hold their students in school for 220 and 243 days, respectively. When the "summer break" gathered steam (around the turn of the 20th Century), it was believed that it was in the best interests of the medical and mental health of children. Keeping them out of school in the summer months would cut down on heat-related disease and give their brains a rest. However, that rest has led the United States down a path where we are consistently behind in math skills and graduation rates.

So as we sit back and enjoy the final few days of "summer," think about those lazy, hazy days of summer and remember that we have had it pretty good. I can't complain about not being in San Francisco (I've already done enough of that) and I will relax tonight and tomorrow night while watching the Democratic ticket accept their nominations for Vice President and President. We are under 150 days until we get a new president!


Lana Gramlich said...

Down here kids attend school from Aug-May, so they've been back for a week or two already.
We may end up with an unintentional vacation to visit my bro in Fla if Gustav doesn't turn it's course pretty soon...

Anna van Schurman said...

Dude, what makes you think school not being compulsory is a good thing? We want an educated public. Really, I'm sure the Mrs. will explain it to you for me. ;)

stinkypaw said...

I don't know how many days, not enough according to many parents, but our school season is from Sept. to end of June.

Enjoy your time at the beach, which I'm envious of btw, what's left of it! Oh, those vacation tips weren't that usefull at all, at least not for me! ;-)

Brave Astronaut said...

Lana - I can never get used to the varying schedules, having spent so many years in the NY system. Shouldn't everyone be in school at the same time as us?

Anna - I'm not maintaining that compulsory education is a bad thing, I'm just saying that we may be too lazy to really make it happen.

Paw - thanks for the beach wishes.