We are most likely to read emails that we receive on Wednesday. Monday we have too many, and we need to catch up. By Wednesday we are caught up and by Thursday we are already trying to get everything finished so we can leave early on Friday.
This is why Friday at 4pm is the best day to publish a tweet and Wednesday is the best day to send a press release to bloggers. So on Wednesdays I get about 50 press releases. I don't usually read the press releases, but it came to my attention that that not only was everyone pitching school-related topics, but they were focusing on the negative aspects of school.
1. Ads hawk products to address the impossible scheduling feats schools demand of parents.
Here's a pitch for the shared calendar app:
- Who is in charge of buying the kids' school supplies?
- Who's responsible for dropping them and picking them up at their dance lessons on Tuesdays and Thursdays?
- Who's attending the first parent-teacher meeting this Friday afternoon at 2:30?
The solution? The Planiclik app!
What strikes me about this pitch is that the solution to school making life crazy is not to take kids out of school, it's to use technology to enable the escalation of craziness and the sharing of responsibility for shepherding kids through it. People say they don't have time to homeschool because the parents have to work, but honestly, people don't have time to manage a job when they have to deal with the constant consumption of family time that traditional school demands.
2. School assumes you need to buy stuff in order to learn.
The subject head for another pitch that came to my in box was Penelope, is BTS already stressing you out?
First, what is BTS? Do I live under a rock? I've never seen that term. So I googled it and the only results are BTS stress and BTS spending. So first of all, this tells me that we all associate "back to school" with negativity. But also, it shows that the PR genius who wrote the pitch should get fired because BTS is industry lingo for an industry that has nothing to do with their product or the people they are pitching to.
Video blogger Parker, who is a pre-teen and totally adorable, has a fun video that shows him and his brothers organizing their school supplies. Parker knows the whole thing is ridiculous, but he doesn't quite have the language to say how stupid it is, because if you send kids to school you are in no position to tell kids that the rituals of school are stupid. Otherwise you are stupid for sending your kids to learn from adults who enforce those rituals.
The language Parker is missing is this: Kids who are rich enough to buy bags and bags of school supplies do not have any regression during the summer. What I mean is that poor kids regress during the summer. Poor kids are under-stimulated during the summer and they forget what they learned in the year prior. Other kids do not have this regression. Other kids continue to learn all summer long, and they come to school a little smarter than when they left. Time magazine has gathersed a good deal of data on this topic.
So if Parker and his brother are still learning all summer without school and without the school supplies, then why do they need all those school supplies in order to learn during the school year? The answer is that school is a distraction from learning and these supplies are tools for the distraction.
3. School supply requirements are itemized plans for wasting kids' time in school.
Here's a list of school districts that require kids to buy index cards. Are they kidding me? These are solidly middle-class school districts. This is like using a Rolodex still. What are you using note cards for that a kid cannot do faster and better with a laptop or a smartphone?
Here's a second-grade classroom that has to buy crayons. What are nine-year-olds doing with crayons? These are kids who go home and build enormous cities with running water and four-season eco-systems in Minecraft. And for aspiring artists, it's doubtful crayons would be their first choice of medium in second grade. This school supply lists belies the lack of creativity and honesty that goes into thinking about school activities and, in turn, the supplies to support them.
Here's a list of school districts that require kids to buy paper. I love this grade-school video blogger named Helen. She talks about how stupid her school supply list is. She says she doesn't need paper unless she wants to draw a picture. And she's right. Because she grew up using the Internet and the person who wrote her school supply list didn't.
Three-ring binders. Kids know they won't use them because they can't fit them into their backpacks. And anyway, the only thing kids would need to put in a three-ring binder are handouts. And everyone knows that handouts from teachers are a sign of teacher apathy.
The bottom line from all these links? The adults are writing press releases about how important it is to restructure your life to accommodate the awfulness of back to school. And the kids are getting online to speak up and ask: why are we doing this? It makes no sense.
And you know what? Everyone is right.