Dripping with sarcasm like the popsicle you are holding in the hot sun…

Guess what term made it into the mass market following NCLB (No Child Left Behind) aka (No Capitalist Corporation ever to Lose Billions)? Summer slide.

When NCLB took a grip on the US, publishing companies capitalistic prowess were primed for production and endless amounts of cash by way of testing products, new series for every content area and grade, training materials, and tools for the trade. Though NCLB was replaced by Every Student Succeeds aka Ever Sucking System, it still lingers in the air like the stench of a compressing trash truck’s drippings.

No longer are children, children, but now data descriptors such as proficient, average, underperforming or meeting standard, approaching standard, or not there yet aka a moron (how did such a child even make it into 5th grade?)

Summer slide has smoothly moved its way into educational vernacular like assessment, testing, anxiety, ADHD, restraint, evaluation, not making progress, and the like.

I do not agree with summer slide though it is a very catchy term that makes you envision a slide into a pool on a warm summer day with a giggling child slipping down into a big splash along with the massive smile and bursting scream (more on the slide into the pool later).  

Teachers have subscribed to it; they now send home mounds of work for students that include tracking devices (not literally but just enough sign here to qualify) parents feel guilty and risk their relationship with their child so as not to have the school board knocking on their door on September 1.  

Parents have subscribed to it, thinking their child will be a cut above by burning them straight through the summer to win those extra credits, pizza day, and a special visit to the principal’s office for a gold plated trophy (shaming fully intended for those students who had actually enjoyed a summer).

Administrators love it because they get to crap on their teachers more, requiring more items for teachers – tacked on to that ever growing list of things to do.  Can you guess the one list name that teachers don’t keep? List of tasks to eliminate, dump, and trash.

List of tasks to

eliminate, dump, and trash.

dump, and trash.

and trash.

Summer time is for sliding into self-directed learning through play – whatever tweens and teens are drawn to for playing. It is for finding that neighbor or friend who HAS the pool slide and going down it again and again and again! Shouting out as the cool water hits their desperately pale skin (from no more recess or outdoor activity).

I recall seeing a group of boys in the tween – teenage bracket at the beach. They tumbled freely down the dunes, shoved each other, laughed, then climbed up the dunes for more.  I thought to myself about the importance of freedom and play that is necessary to meet the challenges of school institutionalization (yes I have my opinions about that too).

The school systems of the US public schools have become testing behemoths.  The testing schedule and rigors are all consuming.  Fun has been sucked out of nearly every grade level because of the expectations on teachers (often linked to pay, job security, and performance ratings) to turn out peak performance test results and for students to produce these results (no matter what).

Shoot for this summer slide: socialization, games, sports, outdoor exploration, races, camps, family connection, and summertime traditions: grilling out, who can spit the watermelon seed the farthest, family football or catch, carefree-ness, neighborhood gatherings, late nights and less scheduling. And, of course reading

You may be thinking I’m way to off to one side on this matter – perhaps I am.  Here’s what summer time needs in the way of academics: reading for choice not assignment, journaling, building with wood all the while measuring, science – mixing liquids to make potions, getting a summer time job walking the dog or cutting the grass – money management, banking/financing/investing, picking up chess or poker – math; learning to save, invest, count, strategy, patience, learning a new skill, money. Open your minds to summer and what learning is in store, that is the summer slide; the slide of life.

Hate what I wrote – great! Email me heidi@EducatorOnFire.com – be sure to blast me with equal parts sarcasm and disdain

LOVE what I wrote – great! Email me heidi@EducatorOnFire.com – be sure to pile on the compliments so my self-esteem remains steady (because self-esteem comes from others, right??)

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