The Joys Of Life, Issue 9


For this month’s edition of “The Weekly,” I’ve been thinking about what this “Coronacation” has entailed for our lives. We can’t see our friends as much as we’d like to. We can’t learn in the same way some of us would like to. We’ve lost a core part of our routine, and, in reflection, this removal has left a hole in the core of our- selves. That’s why, as this week’s featured Joy, I thought it fitting to talk about that thing that’s been ripped out of us: school.

And no, I’m not talking about a school of fish, although we can go on a famous Grayson tangent now. Schools of fish are incredible. They’re so cliquey. They’re so sticky. They stick together so much because it keeps them safe, and also fish are notoriously anti-social, so when they go to school together they can make friends.

Honestly, this isn’t that dissimilar from regular school. Human school is also very cliquey and sticky, and we stick together a lot, too. We go to school to learn but also to make friends. The word “school” actually comes from the Greek word for “leisure.” But the word “leisure” turned into the word “lecture” and now school is often not considered “leisure.”

The first schools started in Greece, which Steve says is where the “Classical” society started WHICH IS NOT HOW THAT WORKS AT ALL! Not everything came from Western society, Steve you Parker bubble psychopath!

But after the Academy in Greece, In- dia created the Gurukul, the same type of mass group education. Before this, there were private tutors, but they didn’t have the same mass social element that Academies or the Gurukul had.

I think I’ve established that school is a social place. But did you know, IT’S ALSO A RELIGIOUS PLACE?!?!?! That’s an OUTRAGE! It’s actually not, that was a joke, don’t sue me. In the Dark Ages (throwback to Ms. Hamilton’s 5th grade class) the Catholic Church made cathedral schools to teach good boys and girls to be servants of Jesus (only boys and girls, NO NON-BINARY people back then [that’s a joke, there were, they were just unable to express themselves due to unfair and over- bearing societal norms and pressures that come from years of learned social behaviors relating to gender stereotypes, don’t sue me]).

In the Islamic world, mosques would house schools that taught both how to serve Allah but also served as a Common CORE education, which was definitely a thing back then. These were called Madrasas. Shi’a leaders were educated in being Shi’a leaders at Hawzas. And Jews, which make up 40% of the Parker high school according to Dr. Gay’s survey, went to yeshivas to learn how to be good Jews.

But what about the different levels of schooling nowadays? Most places do elementary school, middle school (or junior high), and high school. Parker is special and does lower school, intermediate school, middle school, and upper school. Magical!

These are also the levels of school (first through 12th grade) that are covered by the U.S. government. But pre-school and college/university (and graduate or tertiary school) still make you pay. Because being smart isn’t just about talent, it’s also about financial resources.

Military schools train people for the military. Riveting! Vocational schools are my favorite. They teach people who want to learn a specific craft. So, since I want to be a carpenter, I can go to carpenter vocational school and learn how to be the best carpenter I can be. These schools’ curricula are really student-centered and customized for the students going there, so they provide a unique education.

But you may have noticed I’ve left a couple out. What about homeschool? That’s where you go to school from home. What about online school? That’s where you go to school online. WAIT! WE’RE DOING THAT!

Everyone is talking about how this new, online learning format is new and crazy and while, yes, it’s impressive and miraculous, people around the world go to school like this every day. Some people don’t go to school at all. We can get through this, as long as we reach out to each other and support each other.

One of the Not-Joys of this week’s Joy of Life is the mental health issues that come with school. According to data from Connecticut Children’s Mental Center, emergency mental health visits are 118% greater during the school year than the summer. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among school-aged kids. The rate of hospitalizations has increased over 300% in seven years. The rate of suicide for boys increased by 95%, girls increased by 33%.

Eighty-three percent of kids cite school as their greatest stress, and 27% say they get “extreme stress” or anxiety. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 3.1 million 12-17 year olds had depressive episodes. Why is this happening? WE DON’T HAVE FULL BRAINS! Our brains aren’t done. BE PATIENT, God’s not finished with us yet.

And the social isolation that comes from coronavirus COVID-19 quarantining/shelter-in-place policy is that we don’t get to go to school. E-learning doesn’t help at all as we aren’t interacting face-to-face. People who are more likely to feel socially isolated are LITERALLY socially isolated, and it can be really bad for people’s mental health. This is why Parker needs to support students. They can’t overload us with work, they need to allow time to breathe, they need to let us interact with our peers because our Google Meet sessions are one of the very few times we will get to see our friends faces. I’m glad they are offering counseling through virtual meetings, so if people are really struggling, they can reach out, but we can do more.

Parker can do more during the normal school year as well. Stress eats a lot of people up, and heavy workloads keep people stuck. The college process is more stressful than ever as schools have evolved to be INCREDIBLY competitive, but generic high school education hasn’t really evolved with it. Parker is trying, I know, but we can do more. For right now, reach out, stay safe, and have fun. Good friends, good-bye!