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John Brock: Don't delay classes; teach the little darlings to go to bed earlier

  • Tuesday, October 1, 2013

  • Updated Wednesday, October 2, 2013 2:17 pm

I was surprised when I read that the Georgetown School Board has broached the subject of delaying the start of high school classes until 10 a.m. They haven't decided to do so – just agreed to discuss the matter.
I suppose I shouldn't have been all that taken aback because we live in a world where everybody wants to treat the symptoms of a problem rather than address the basic causes of the problem.
We suggest giving clean needles to dope addicts so they won't get infected. Some folks claim the people never kill people – in their view – guns do. And, so forth. For every ill in society, we propose another social program to rub salve on the effect of the problem instead of chasing after the root of the real trouble. We keep giving people a fish instead of teaching them how to fish! Our solution to crime is putting more police on the streets instead of attacking the basic human problems that are the cause of crime in the first place. Individuals are always at the base of every problem.
And that's exactly what we would do in an attempt to accommodate sleepy students rather than address the root cause of their lethargy.
The problem is that the kids are not going to bed early enough! Delaying the opening of school will simply keep them up later as they retire deeper into the nighttime with a roomful of electronics, cell phones and iPads.
Can you imagine the havoc that a delayed high school starting time will create among working families? First there are the younger siblings who must start school at traditional times and Mom and Dad who have to be at work by seven or eight o'clock. I imagine a madhouse as everyone operates on different schedules. And what about after school hours? Sports practices and extra-curricular activities will start at dusk? Consider teenage brothers and sisters who are supposed to look after younger siblings after school until the parents get home? And the list goes on.
The school board will view, I suppose, studies that indicate high school students are more awake at 10 a.m. and better able to absorb the learning materials, therefore, we should consider accommodating their late-night habits. Better test scores on standardized tests making the school system look better might be one motive behind the notion rather than the general education of students. I hope not.
Schools are supposed to (or at least, they once were) equip young adults for real life. Can you imagine employers delaying opening their business until the middle of the morning to satisfy young workers not experienced in getting a head start on the day? I think not.
The real solution to the problem is parents getting their kids in bed at a reasonable hour and checking their electronic gadgets at the bedroom door.
My family ALL went to bed at a reasonable hour. Actually, when I was in high school, I got up at 4:30 a.m. to carry my seven-day-a-week newspaper route. I came back home in time to grab a quick breakfast and then off to school. After school, I practiced football in the spring and fall, then back home for supper (with the entire family), homework and then bed.
I will admit to falling asleep in geometry class a time or two but whenever I entered the working world, I understood that it was MY responsibility to get a good night's sleep. Students must be taught this same lesson.
I get copious e-mails, letters and phone calls each week relative to opinions expressed in this column. Only occasionally does a response warrant follow-up comment.
Thus was the case of a recent letter-to-the-editor from a gentleman in Murrells Inlet. He very civilly took exception to my Judeo/Christian column of several weeks ago. He made, I believe, two false assumptions. First of all, I presented the firm belief that if citizens of the world would simply follow the concepts illuminated in the Old Testament's Ten Commandments and several “Golden-rule” admonitions in the New Testament, the world could live in harmony. At no time did I indicate that this was or ever has been a universal practice.
I suppose he assumed that's what I had indicated but I did not. Very often opponents of my thoughts end up proving my point. The letter writer drew readers' attention to tyrants of the past as well as dragging up the Crusades, Indian displacement, Inquisition, and the KKK. For some reason he omitted slavery. In doing so, he inadvertently legitimized my premise that If EVERYONE followed the admonitions of the documents I mentioned, the world would be a peaceful place. Obviously, the folks he pointed out did NOT adhere to Judeo/Christian precept, thereby, proving my point. Thank you.
The second erroneous supposition was my position in the academic hierarchy. He afforded me the honorable title of “Doctor.” I do not have a doctorate degree, therefore, I can only legitimately claim the title of “Professor” and later University Vice-president.
Late in life, when I had sort of retired and had gone to graduate school, I was asked to join a university faculty as Professor because of my life experience and knowledge of the subjects I would teach. I was told by university officials and accrediting agencies that this kind of broad experience is often superior to the rather narrow path of most PhD studies. It was not an unusual occurrence to designate non-doctorate old guys with a lot of experience, to that level. But I appreciate the letter-writer's promotion. Thank you, again.
John Brock is a retired college professor and, newspaper editor/publisher, who lives in Georgetown County. He can be reached by mail at this newspaper, or by Email at brock@johnbrock.com.
Opinions that appear on this page in Letters to the Editor or in columns do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.


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