When Andy Williams sang about the most wonderful time of the year, you can bet he was talking about back to school time. The kids where I live start school tomorrow, which may seem weird to most of you who come from areas where they still observe the archaic practice of resuming classes on the day after Labor Day, but many school districts in the Midwest and South pushed the start of school up to mid-August over the last decade. It makes sense since in these pussified times even the hint of a snowflake or a chill in the air will send the overprotective school administrators hustling to declare a “snow day”, so the earlier start can accommodate more missed days during the year.
Here’s something you may not know. In America, Back to School is considered to be the second busiest retail season of the year after you-know-what. Having experienced this season 16 times while working at Mecca now, I have seen firsthand just how incredible the demand is for school supplies during the month of August. I have watched pallets full of notebooks completely disappear in days, and shelves full of cheap folders quickly become an endless array of empty trays after being raided by hordes of stressed out parents. I have seen enough crayons to color the earth come out to the floor and promptly leave via the checkouts.
And do you know why Back To School time is like the Summer Christmas for retailers? Because schools require kids to show up to the first day of class with so much useless shit that not only has nothing to do with education, but in some cases, even counteracts learning! As a public service to all frustrated parents out there, today The Nest will point out all of the items on the typical back to school list of the 21st century that are completely unnecessary and that your kids could really do without lugging to class in their 84 pound backpacks…
Useless School Supply #1: Antibacterial Wipes/Hand Sanitizer
I am a firm believer that the apocalypse is not going to take the form of a giant asteroid, or a nuclear holocaust, or rivers of blood, or even Cellageddon (though one can dream), but it will be at the hands of a nasty pandemic that the civilized human population couldn’t handle because they used too much fucking Lysol. Germs are not to be feared, but to be embraced, for they may give us the sniffles or the runs, but all in all, frequent germ exposure helps keep our immune system on its toes. How do you think all those fancy vaccines work anyway? They immunize you by injecting a tiny dose of the actual bacteria itself into you to boost up your body’s natural antibodies. The human body does an amazing job on its own of keeping us healthy.
But we do that whole natural process a huge disservice thanks to the unholy war of terror we humans have waged on everything germy. This is a recent trend that has now worked its way into school supply lists, and now we’re going to impart these deadly lessons in hygiene onto our young. When I was in school, you wiped your nose with your sleeve, and spit on your hands if they got dirty playing kickball. No matter how much you try to shield a child from germs, the fact is that kids get sick, and often. It’s because their immune systems are still building up their strength. Sick kids may be an inconvenience, but letting them get their share of snotty noses is actually the best thing for them. I need some others to survive with me when that pandemic wipes out all you antibacterial freaks…
Useless School Supply Item #2: Paper Towels
There’s nothing wrong with having a roll of paper towels in the classroom to help clean up the mess after Johnny vomits all over Suzie’s new shoes. There is something wrong with expecting the students to provide the paper towels for the class. When the hell did we get to the point where we were passing along the costs of supplying a classroom onto the kids? I know budget cuts are getting tough, especially in education, but I doubt our governors are having to go out and buy their own roll of Sparkle to supply their exquisite state mansions.
Besides, most states now have their own lottery, and they love to tout that all of that money that isn’t going to the winners (who in turn pay most of it back to the government in taxes) goes straight into the state’s education budget. Is someone trying to tell me that all those millions of lottery dollars can’t supply classrooms with basic supplies like a roll of damn paper towels. Are we going to expect kids to supply their own desks and chairs next?
Useless School Supply #3: Graphing Calculators
Graphing calculators first came out when I was in high school. They were a neat sight to behold, seeing all those pretty parabolas and hyperbolas we were learning about in algebra class come to life on a little screen. But even if you could afford one to help with assignments, they sure as hell weren’t allowed anywhere near a math test. Now, most high schools require them.
It’s sad, but it’s a fact of life that today’s kids aren’t allowed to figure stuff out on their own. Just look at video games. Sure, they may look cooler and have deeper storylines than the 8-bit classics we played in my day, but our games were harder. And there sure as hell weren’t cheat codes and walkthrough booklets that pretty much take all of the adventure and fun out of playing a game in the first place. We prided ourselves in being able to beat Super Mario Bros. in one life, or blast away the Mother Brain quick enough to get a glimpse of Samus Aran’s sexy space bikini. And we didn’t need a damn bit of outside help to accomplish those goals.
But now… we think it’s OK for kids to cheat, so long as they can get everything right and not have their fragile self-esteems bruised. We are quickly approaching the asymptote of infinite ludicrocity, and just try bringing that up on your handy dandy little graphing calculator.
Useless School Supply #4: Kindermats
Kids need naps, I get that. I’m 38, and I take naps quite often during my days off. But the early years of our schooling should be all about preparing us for what’s to come, and nothing gets little tykes started off on the wrong foot like having them lay on cushiony mats in kindergarten. Sure, you look all comfy and relaxed now, but I got news for you, dear. 1o years from now, when you get bored in study hall and your BFF can’t text with you because she’s in gym class, you’re going to be nodding off on a hard desktop that’s going to be murder on your neck and forearms. Let’s actually give our five year olds a taste of the real world by having them sleep on the hard, cold floor. They’ll thank us one day just as soon as the bell wakes them up.
Useless School Supply #5: Glue
As you might expect, I’m a big proponent of keeping the arts in the classroom. So I’m not including glue here because I think kids’ time would be better spent with their nose in a book, I’m including glue here because it’s a fucking mess and shouldn’t be in any child’s desk. I was the Joe Hazelwood of glue when I was in school, as my Elmer’s Valdez was constantly spilling all over the place and leaving huge globs of hardened glue all over my important stuff. No matter how tight you close up that top, if it’s sitting sideways in your pencil box, it’s gonna leak and fuse your colored pencils together. So here’s a call to make glue a community supply for the classroom.
With these recommendation from The Nest, parents can save money, and bring some sanity back to the classroom. And with the opening bell less than 24 hours away, I get some much needed sanity back in my life and the juvies back off of my street. School’s back in session, so don’t forget to drive carefully!