From the desk of friendly neighborhood Paragraph Stacker Daniel P. Finney of Des Moines, Iowa.
The digital invades our daily lives in uncounted ways, but the war on snow days may prove the cruelest cut.
I watched the school closing scroll across my TV Sunday night. Many closed, but others moved classes to an all-virtual model — the innovation that kept school going during this tragic, tedious pandemic.
The snow day – or the cold day – isn’t quite dead, but the end is near. Soon nobody will ever get an unscheduled day off. They’ll just open their laptops and carry on.
I suppose it’s a small loss, but once again the culture of “always on” pays an unwanted dividend.
Children once pressed their noses against window glass with anticipation only matched in events with birthday cake or Christmas presents.
They pestered their teachers the moment the first snowflake fell: “Do you think they’ll let us go home early? Do you think they’ll cancel school tomorrow?”
The teachers did their best to restore order, but the dreams of snowball fights, snowman building and the raw thrill of being out of school when you were supposed to be in school swallowed up any chance to teach and learn.
Most of the time the anticipation proved much ado about nothing. But there were those days, those delightful days when the snow piled too high or the wind blew the cold too hard so that even the most stalwart superintendent surrendered and called off school.
Oh, what magical days. We slept late. If we could go outside, we built snow forts, sought out the biggest hill in town and sledded as we let loose shrieks of joy.
If we couldn’t go outside, we played video games or read comic books. We quarreled with our siblings, ate too much sugar and stayed up too late.
That’s all but over now.
Maybe today’s kids would just as soon slog through school in so-called virtual days. The students must be used to them by now after enduring them so long.
I’ve no interest in debating the pedagogical merits of virtual versus in-person instruction. That’s left for parents, students, educators and, unfortunately, politicians.
But I will say this much: You may squeeze a couple droplets of learning into a virtual school day, but there will never be a virtual snow day.
The simple pleasures are the ones we miss when we prize efficiency and convenience above all else.
We wonder why our lives are so overburdened and crammed, why everything seems so relentless and extreme.
Maybe when things get so intense, we should remember snow days – a day when Mother Nature told us to take a break in the middle of the obscenity that is February in the Midwest and go play.
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