Today was the penultimate school day before a long break for Passover and Easter. Starting Thursday I’ll have seven school days and two weekends away from work.
I love my job but it requires a great deal of energy and it can really wear me down over time. My colleagues and I have been anticipating this break, counting down the days and periods until it starts at 3PM tomorrow.
When I was a student I relished these breaks and looked forward to them with glee, but my students are reacting very differently. They are increasingly edgy, antsy, emotionally stressed and violent. Ask why and they’ll tell you they don’t want the break. They want school to continue.
Many of my colleagues will be traveling to Florida, Africa, Europe, South America and Jamaica among other destinations. They’ll be driving, flying or taking cruises.
Even though I’ll be at home spending most of the time off preparing for a college course I’ll be teaching starting in June I’ll still be able to sleep late, work at a more leisurely pace, and stop to smell whatever is blooming next week.
My students will also be staying home, but they won’t smell anything blooming.
For these kids staying home doesn’t just mean remaining in the Bronx; most of them will not leave their apartment.
We don’t have a park in the neighborhood and the parents, many of whom work two or more jobs, don’t want their pre-teen and teenage children wandering around completely unsupervised.
School is where these boys and girls socialize, spend time outside and have at least a little taste of freedom.
School is where my students get two nutritious meals a day and teacher-provided snacks. No school? For some it means little or no food. When students held a canned food collection just before Thanksgiving the donations, supplemented by teacher donated turkeys, were given to other students in need.
School is also where these boys and girls get to show how smart they can be, how good they can be. When they’re not smart or good they’re given encouragement, instruction and another chance instead of a slap, a belt or worse.
No wonder they don’t want a nearly two-week break. Its not that they love school or their teachers all that much.
It’s that they like home less.