Many K-12 schools began classes this week. What followed was a myriad of photos depicting children off to their first day posted all over social media outlets. Kids with backpacks so huge they’re destined to have severe spinal problems in a few years. Kids with such stylish new outfits and hairdos they could be catalog models. Kids with so much unbridled enthusiasm it looks like they were just told they were going to Disney World.
There was even one couple who got into the spirit of the day. A husband posted a photo of his wife standing on their front stoop. The description read: “She’s not going to school. She’s going to work. And it’s not her first day. And her lunchbag doesn’t have her name on it.” The wife gamely posed for the photo, smiling goofily.
It was absolutely refreshing to see this different level of accord hit my computer screen. The previous week had been overwhelmed with posts about the Harley-Davidson 110th anniversary party. So, now there are all these images of kids, from preschoolers to high schoolers, looking like they are actually happy to cross the threshold of education. Could it be possible that maybe we are just truly geeks at heart? That the thought of a new start, of learning an original concept and understanding something previously unknown is exciting? Maybe we really do like to learn, but who’s going to admit to that?
Remember that one moment in whatever grade, in a subject you didn’t particularly like, when you suddenly ‘got’ it and the light bulb went off? You happily thought to yourself, “I am not as stupid as I think I am!”
There’s no need to surrender that feeling or need after receiving that final diploma. Life is full of lessons, of beautiful ideas and concepts just waiting to be discovered, understood and discussed. And when that happens, it should be celebrated.
A few weeks ago on a visit to Old World Wisconsin, an outdoor history museum, we passed through the one-room schoolhouse. Sitting inside the Raspberry School it was easy to see what had changed in 100 years. Gone was the wood-burning stove, the inkwell in each desktop and the original version of the National Anthem. It was a stark contrast to where I teach college courses, in what is called a “smart” classroom including computers, the Internet, whiteboards, projectors, video communications, etc.
However, it’s not the classroom that’s smart; it’s the students. That is the one element that has remained the same since the Raspberry School days. Enthusiasm is still elevated. There’s a desire to learn more, to discuss and advance. Wouldn’t it be nice if people starting posting photos that celebrated more of the small—but great—things in life, like lessons learned, accomplishments at work or even acts of kindness? Just like children looking forward to the first day of school, that’s the best kind of news to share on social networks.