Back in the day (and oh, how my kids mock me when I start off that way), I was so proud of the new book satchel I got at the beginning of every year to carry my things to and from school.  As I recall, a lot of children didn’t even have satchels–they just carried armloads of books (small armloads at that!).
By high school I had abandoned the satchel.  My purse held my pens and I carried home a stack of books.  Between each class I visited my locker to trade one class’s book and folder for the next.  My, how things have changed.
My boys have simply gargantuan backpacks.  The things cost a fortune (or they would, if I could afford a fortune.  I spent $30 on Teddy’s and I am fairly certain it will tear up mid-year.)  They are stuffed.  I’ll bet they weigh thirty pounds.  The textbooks are enormous, and apparently there is not enough time to make it to lockers between every class, so the poor kids have to carry backpacks around all day long.  In fact, Jake, afraid of forgetting something important due to ADHD, has in fact carried every single book around all day every day.
If I’m going to have time to blog every day, I am not going to have time to link to citations, but I know I’ve read studies about the damage this is all doing to our children’s backs.  I’ve already expressed my thoughts on what the amount of homework they have does to their family and social lives.  Needless to say, along with the increasing demand for expensive school supplies, it’s damaging my pocketbook.
And it’s not just extra-large textbooks crowding my sons’ backpacks.  They are also overflowing with three ring binders, required for every class.  Why?  So that the teachers can take them up and make sure that these teenagers are taking notes the way the teachers want them to.  Helicopter teaching, anyone?  When I was in high school (which I remember in ridiculous detail, by the way, to my children’s eternal chagrin I’m quite sure), it was entirely up to us what sort of folder or binder we used–or didn’t use–for each class.  I recall my freshman year Trapper Keeper particularly fondly!  In succeeding years I purchased a different colored folder for each class, making it easy to tell them apart.  These folders, of course, cost about ten cents each, unlike the $2.50 per binder we spent at Wal-Mart (and this was, again, for the cheap binders, which will no doubt fall apart from being shoved into those overfull backpacks and have to be replaced mid-year).
Anyway, I don’t remember anyone checking to make sure I was taking notes right when I was a junior in high school.  Isn’t it a little late by then?  Shouldn’t one’s test scores be the proof of one’s note-taking skills or lack thereof?
Oh, for the good old days.  And don’t even get me started on the subject of calculators that cost as much as a week’s worth of groceries.
[Update:  Teddy once has his grade docked for having a less-than-perfect binder of notes even though he had an A in the class.  I could rant about that for hours.]


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