So, typically, August is the month for going back to school. Vacation time is ending and the mad rush for school supplies has begun. Arteology took the month of July off to take care of some business as well as some vacation time. It got me reminiscing.

Growing up, we had a condo in Daytona Beach, specifically Ponce Inlet, the southernmost point of Daytona. We had an old Jeep Wagoneer and my brother and I would load up in the back, sharing pillows and a big yellow bean bag. I would listen to music or read and he would play games like football and basketball on those old hand-held electronic devices -pretty simple toys but very cool for the ’70s. We would travel two hours to the beach and spend countless summers there.

The Fourth of July was one of my favorite holidays. There were a lot of families from Lakeland that owned condos close to ours. We also had friends from places like Jacksonville, Valdosta, and as far away as Houston. We would grill and stuff ourselves on hot dogs and hamburgers, homemade salads, fresh seafood like shrimp and oysters and wonderful desserts like my favorite, key lime pie. The weather was hot but there was always a breeze coming off the ocean which made it comfotable. In the evening, the older kids would build a bonfire on the beach, set off fireworks, and we would chase each other with sparklers. It was a happy and carefree childhood which I will always remember.

I’m sure I whined about having to go back to school but I honestly did enjoy it. I liked the structure of the classes with different expectations each day and I enjoyed seeing my friends. I played the oboe in band and we were really very good back in the day! I loved English and literature while my brother’s strongsuit was math. There were many times when he helped me with my poor math skills and I would help him with an essay or writing a poem. While my brother and I had a symbiotic relationship in regards to school work, I don’t know if it would have helped either one of us if we were in school these days.

My niece is 19 now and I remember her mother calling to see if I could help her with her homework. She was a terrific student but had some difficulty in weird classes like astronomy or psychology. And this was in elementary school! How could I help her when some of these courses were not even available when I was in school?! I don’t think I could have been a good student if I were in school nowadays. I don’t think advanced classes necessarily make a better student or working adult. After all, how often does one need to know the diameter of Jupiter’s moons?!

Kids need to learn the basics – reading, writing, arithmetic, and history – along with some common sense courses like writing checks and balancing a budget, driver’s education, and physical education. Music is an excellent discipline and art is a classic course that can benefit anyone. I see a lot of talk on television about testing students. It seems that if the focus is more on the student and less on statistics, the students will benefit more in the end. But alas, my school days are over and I have no say-so in the school process. I admire kids these days for putting up with all the testing and funky classes and still making it through. So, cherish your vacations and study hard in school. When things get tough, just find a happy place…. for me, it’ll always be Ponce Inlet.

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