New Years Day is at the wrong time of the year. It should be August 20.
Most school calendars are based on an agrarian timetable. Just a few decades ago, in the summers, families needed their children’s help in the fields, planting, weeding, and harvesting vegetables and grains. Summer was the time for building fences, mowing hay, painting the barn, and hoeing the garden. Kids spent summers with grandparents in the garden house. Then when the days were cooler, they would put on shoes again (ouch) and they went to school. It was a new year.
The new year for teachers is in August. A new school calendar, new notebooks, clean desks, and new faces. By the time August rolls around, I have had plenty of time to rest, to rethink, and to revise my teaching. In August, new faculty begin their jobs with nervous, but high expectations. Students clean up, wear new clothes, and at least try to look interested. Academic administration signals a new year with new mottos, upgraded speeches, and fresh energy for their faculty. Perhaps we will have a new computer or iPad.
August is energy, expectation, and excitement. August is a trip to the office supply store. August is the smell of new notebooks. August is learning new names and new faces.
Now maybe it is because I live in a northern climate, but January is cold, stiff, and dark. January is tattered pages in torn notebooks, and slow internet. The sidewalks need to be shoveled and the car windows need to be scrapped.
I’m sorry, but it is hard to celebrate the new year in the middle of the school year. Nothing much is new for most teachers in January. In January we will teach the same groups. We will have the same worn textbooks. We will have the same schedule. We walk past the same smells wafting from the cafeteria.
August 20 is also World Mosquito Day, National Radio Day, and National Chocolate Pecan Pie Day. But we can also celebrate the new year, can’t we?
So my first proposal is to celebrate the New Year on August 20. Shoot fireworks, stay up all night, and sing Auld Lang Syne when it is warm, and we can be outside comfortably.
My European colleagues have it right. September 1 is a “holiday” of the new school year.
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