13 June 2015
It’s summer vacation time. A fact so evident in the throngs of children swarming the local sports complex where we go for a walk every morning. Even very early in the day you can see the cars lined up as parents queue to drop off their kids for coaching in sports activities ranging from football, basketball, cricket to swimming and skating! Road side banners and posters gaily announce in bright colourful letters ‘Vacation times Fun times’, as they advertise summer camps in painting, dancing, singing, theatre…you name it and they have it. Even schools these days have joined this commercial band-wagon by offering special summer school activities for the students. The brouhaha feels such a contrast to our childhood vacations which were all about carefree days spent doing nothing in particular. Every summer my mother would push us into taking up some creative craft as a hobby and we would have some holiday home work to do (usually scraped together towards the end!)
During my teaching years a parent had once jokingly told me that summer vacation is the time when she is convinced that her son’s teachers are grossly underpaid! In big cities with both parents working all year round, it is a challenge for them to find fun-filled, safe and affordable activities for their children to engage in during the summer-Diwali-winter-heat wave-cold wave-rainy day and the other endless parade of holidays schools take but regular employers do not! Little wonder that many of them crib about it and wish schools would be open all year long.
So where did this whole school vacation system come up from? Almost all countries of the world follow it and no one really knows how and where it originated! Some (specially in the U.S.) feel it is a vestigial throwback to an agrarian past when children were required to work in the farms during harvest times…a view many are not convinced by. From what i know of harvests even in our country, they happen around spring (end-of-the-year-exams time usually!). It seems more plausible that it has more to do with a need to get away from the unbearable heat of the summer months.
Whatever the debates about vacations or all-year-schools, shorter or longer vacations, holiday homework versus no holiday projects, the need for a break is indisputable. A respite from the drudgery of the daily grind is always welcome. It improves your health, adds to life’s memories, reconnects relationships and also helps you tap into your creative side. You need to allow your brain to experience newer environments to make you think differently.
All work and no play does make Jack a dull boy!