It’s that time of year again. The time when schools literally divest themselves of thousands of young men and women, handing them over to other institutions of learning or to a daily grind. This, as one commencement speaker said, after years of homework assignments, essays, projects and SBA’s.
My son is about to start that five year walk, but I’ve already had a taste of what’s to come since both he and my daughter have already had several “projects”- some of which I did myself. My son had to complete a few SBA assignments and about every two weeks my daughter was required to bring pictures. Of clouds, of different methods of transportation, of road signs. I’ve had to print pictures of invertebrates at least half a dozen times.
But these requests only remind me of how much easier the kids have it these days. When I was going to school, bringing in a picture of anything meant that I’d be scouring magazines hoping that the picture I needed wasn’t on the back of a page that my mother wanted to keep. Cutting one out of a book was out of the question, so I’d better be able to find an old newspaper with a picture close to what I was asked to get.
Finding information on a topic we knew nothing about meant going to a library which held information that was at least already ten years old. The lucky among us were able to stay home and look through the volumes of Encyclopedia Brittanica that our parents had bought on a payment plan for just this purpose. Selling encyclopedias is one job that’s been “internetted” out of existence hasn’t it?
Even when I went to our local college, I was hand writing essay papers that were several pages long – neatly blocking out the mistakes before presenting it with its three-hole punched manila folder. This is after I’d already written it once before on foolscap paper. I don’t know who I felt sorrier for – myself, or the teachers who had to read each different handwriting style, some of which weren’t as legible as mine.
By the time I got to university, I had touched a computer only a few times so I was happy to use the free-standing trailers that were located
behind God’s back near the back of the campus which housed the word processing machines. These were almost always available for use. Of course about a year in, I discovered that the computer lab – which usually required a wait – but it was infinitely a better option. So by the time I graduated, the trailers were being used for something else.
I listened to a speaker last night who marveled at the fact that some of our children still have the audacity to claim that they’re “bored”. He realized that most are using technology and its easy availability for entertainment, but he posited that more should be using it to improve their skills in a particular talent or interest.
And I hoped that in this graduation season, more speakers would be imparting this kind of wisdom – because there aren’t going to be jobs out there for all of them. At least, not immediately. So it might behoove them to use the down time wisely.
Most speakers are correct when they talk about graduation being just the beginning. I hope they also tell them that there’s a lot more learning up ahead. And that luckily for them, it’s a whole lot easier these days to do it.