Is Summer Sensible?

Ahhh, summer vacation is coming soon. Here are the questions such a thing bring to my mind:

  • Should a student take a break?
  • Is it necessary that we take a break several months long every summer?
  • Is there something about learning that demands we rest from the schedule of school?
  • Is our need for a vacation (and believe me I feel the need like everyone else, I’m just overcoming my current physical exhaustion to be a little philosophical here) is this need rising from our view of learning as labor?
  • If we moved away from notions of learning as labor or work, would that change the situation?
  • Is our modern summer break derived from harvest necessities, and if so is it still legit?
  • Is it even possible to contemplate the major culture shift it would require to move away from this seemingly entrenched schedule?

Just thinking out loud. I may follow up with some preliminary answers, but would love to hear from you as well.

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One thought on “Is Summer Sensible?”

  1. It’s hard for me to imagine taking a break from life itself. In a sense, that’s what taking a break from learning would be, at least a break of the kind most think of when they hear the phrase “summer break.” If education as paideia means anything like the all-encompassing cultivation of humanity under God, I think we should really consider the meaning of our breaks.

    Just as you wonder whether or not there is something in the nature of learning that demands a break from the schedule of school, I wonder whether or not there is something in the nature of learning that demands the schedule to begin with. The idea of a schedule suggests to me a thrust toward order, and that can sometimes be unhealthy when wholeness is sacrificed. To break things down into discrete events as scheduling often does sometimes seems to be a focus on the particulars outside their proper context. The ideals embodied in education are ideals regardless of our focus on particular schedules. Schedules can be viewed alternately as methods of education, whereas the ideals require a mode by which they may be explored through various embodiments.

    I’ve always thought that the view of education as labor, specifically as one’s employment or a process through which one passes prior to employment, is a potentially fatal flaw in some widespread “implementations” of CCE. “Teaching as a job” would seem to be very different from “education as paideia.” The former tacitly approves of our modern utilitarianism (“We need jobs”) while the latter demands that we view our lives more holistically as members of a community of human beings (“We must cultivate wisdom and virtue in ourselves and in the young”).

    In many “implementations” of CCE, there seems to be the identification of employment with education such that leisure is equated with vocation. When leisure “pays the bills,” it may be difficult to avoid the pitfall of blurring the distinction between winning leisure and the leisure itself, between studying to teach and pursuing the higher things in freedom.

    It is hard to say whether or not the harvest link, if it really does exist, is still a valid concern. I think the CCE movement is having difficulty grasping the ideals we are trying to conform to. We will probably need to consider the possibility that the kind of community we will become as we continue to conform to these ideals may demand that we be something we cannot now recognize.

    As uncomfortable as it may be to ponder, that could mean that the very paradigm of institutional schooling is among the baggage we will need to discard. In the meantime, we have these schools and need to be engaged in the philosophical “due diligence” appropriate to the life of wisdom and virtue we all really want.–>

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