Today marks the beginning of South Carolina’s “tax-free weekend.” It’s not actually totally tax free. Only certain products–and a surprising array at that–are tax free. They’re supposed to be the products considered necessary for kids to get a good start on school, but many of them leave me scratching my head over how they even remotely relate to education.
And school seems to be starting earlier every year. It seems to me that school only last week got out for summer vacation. But my wife, who teaches second grade, assures me that it’s already that time again, and our calendar reflects it, filling up quickly with all sorts of school-related activities: computer training sessions, regular in-service week, parent-teacher “meet and greets,” etc.
But back to the tax-free weekend. As I stroll through Walmart, I’m amazed at the plethora of things that kids “need” in order to be educated today. Both sides of several aisles are devoted to such materials. And the broad, major aisles that provide access to those narrower aisles are jammed to the point of impassibility, especially if you’re trying to navigate with one of those huge carts that Walmart provides. (They never have enough of the little carts that resemble baskets on wheels.)
The only “center” that we had was one that intrigued me. But the only way a student could use it was to get into some sort of trouble. I wasn’t a bad kid, but I do remember purposely getting into trouble a few times when that “center” attracted me more than my temptation-resisting powers could deal with. The “center” consisted of a little farm set arranged on the top of a bookshelf at the back of the room. It had a barn, fences outlining imaginary pastures, a tractor, a manure spreader, and assorted farm animals. Growing up as I did on my grandfather’s dairy farm, I naturally was attracted by the toy-sized farm in that center. So I poked the kid in front of me or talked or repeatedly dropped my book or pencil on the floor or did anything else I could to annoy Mrs. Zachary, forcing her to sentence me to time laboring on that farm.
We poor kids were so underprivileged back then, it’s a wonder we ever learned anything sans the benefits of the wonders of education today. I thank the Lord for such lack of privileges every time I’m at Little Caesar’s and the presiding clerk looks at my $5.40 exact change with puzzlement over how to deal with it or at McD’s when the gal behind the counter struggles to decide how to make change for the $20 I handed her for a $12.35 order. I never cease to be amazed at the display of a nonexistent work ethic exhibited by many young people. Such kids might have been “educated” in more technologically advanced classrooms than I was and have access to more of the material things that are supposed to make their education so much better, but they have failed to learn some of the truly important things in life. And I hate to think of all the temptations and problems that today’s kids face that my generation never dreamed of. Students’ chewing gun and talking in class seem to have been my teachers’ biggest problems.
Copyright (c) 2018, Dennis L. Peterson