Technically it is fall now. When I was growing up and going to college in the Northeast it was painfully obvious at this point that winter was coming. The deciduous trees were changing leaf colors, apple orchards were opening their trees for self-picking, and the smell in the air was a crisp, cool one. When I was a student these changes made me feel as though I was heading for a period of time where there was no escape, when I had to buckle down and get work done because there wasn’t much else to do.
Here in the Southeast things are a bit different. I do not intend to look a gift horse in the mouth, because the lower humidity and high temps is a welcome change. But the “lower” high temps are still in the mid-eighties and the trees are green and the sun is shining.
How do kids know it is time to be at school down here other than simply being required to attend? With beaches and nice weather, sports and recreational activities, how do kids focus on school at all? Winter is a benefit to education in that it rips everything kids want to do away and provides for them warmth at home and in school. Sure you can ice skate, snowboard/ski, and go sledding, but in the end there is only so long you can spend out of doors before you seek refuge.
I find myself wishing for a more obvious change in environment. Where are the orange leaves? The smell of hot apple cider? The ability to wear a hoodie with jeans and not die of heat exhaustion? Some change in temperature to convince the kids that this is time for learning and that soon, when the year turns, it will be time for freedom once again. Without these changes, I fear students are missing out on something that can’t be learned later, but the same might be said for the opposite situation.
What might I say if I grew up here and taught in the north? That students don’t have to learn to deal with distractions to their education by themselves? That winter forces them to learn and be focused and they don’t have the constant distraction of sunshine and oceans to deal with? The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, but the differences definitely cause a different mindset, a different situation, and a different person who enters the world after graduation. I wish there was a way to more accurately measure those differences.