Time

Spring ahead! It’s still winter, yet it’s time to set our clocks forward one hour, another example of bureaucracy at not-working! I believe that Daylight Savings Time was instituted during wartime to make the most of daylight hours. At a time when blackouts were not power failures but enforced curtain-pulling, non-lighting, sitting-in-the-dark realities, every hour of the sun had to be squeezed dry to achieve the survival of our country. Farmers and amateur Liberty gardeners needed daylight for crops and everyone needed the food. The war machine was on full blast, building planes and tanks and bombs, and so on, to fight the greatest evil the world had ever known.

As with so many government ideas, this “temporary” fix soon became permanent, like the income tax. The enforcers of this dumb idea, ignorant of or cavalier toward its negative impact, insist that this “law” protects children waiting for buses, for example, as justification for this archaic notion. This fits into the same category, in my mind, as the idiotic ‘school year’ which MUST run from September to June (give or take a week). When we were principally an agricultural society, a nine-month school year made sense, because kids were needed on the farm to help with growing crops, milking cows, and the like. School was evidently seen as a make-work hassle to be shunted to winter months when kids had less work on the farm. Education, then, was an afterthought.

Fast forward to the 21st century, an age of great wealth and great poverty, an age of brilliant technology and base ignorance. If you have ever watched Waters’ World, you know what I mean. The young reporter asks college students (for instance) simple questions about America and its basic institutions and reveals his encounters with these who are our (last) hope for the future. Hilarious, yet chilling! These smart kids are not sure who our first president was, who won the Civil War, why we celebrate Memorial Day, who past presidents and current congressional leaders are…These are not dumb people—just ignorant, and willfully so.

Our leaders question why our students, who used to be the brightest and the best in the world, are being outstripped by those in other countries. It is clearly not the fault of our genes, for most people over 35 can answer Waters’ questions easily. I don’t wish to address our failing educational system, but I would hazard a guess that part of the problem of massive ignorance in this country might have something to do with time. A nine-month school year? Really? Students in other cultures, like Japan, go to school year-round, with a week or two here or there for vacation, just like adults. Result? Those students score higher on math and science than ours. And, they read and speak English better than many American-born kids.

Isn’t it time, then, to end the costly and useless practice of leap-forward, fall-back Daylight Savings Time? And, even more vital to our country’s survival and our students’ ability to find decent careers against tremendous odds, shouldn’t we end the agrarian approach to school? More time spent actually learning rather than traveling? More time getting immersed in the joys of learning for extended periods when necessary, rather than 40-minute dashes? When I went to school, we walked (2 miles, in the snow, uphill both ways…) to school, arrived on time, and never missed a class unless we were at death’s door. Our parents made sure of that. We respected (and sometimes feared) our teachers and followed the rules; trouble-makers were shunned by fellow students, not admired. And we were there from 8:30 to 3:30 or 4:00 pm, with a half hour for lunch and a few (10-minute) recesses.

Our generation had the highest SAT scores in history, in a time when calculators were forbidden (we didn’t have computers or smart phones, either) and we did the math in our heads or on blank sheets of paper. We were not allowed to study for the SATs; that, too, was considered cheating. We were expected to have learned something through those 12 long years, reading and writing and agonizing over math and science and history and so on. If we hadn’t learned, the boys were drafted or sent to a trade school to become auto mechanics or truck drivers; the girls to be housewives (!) or secretaries (!)… All were expected to use that education to find employment but also to enrich our lives in ways our parents never imagined. And that takes time. Time that is wasted by bureaucratic idiocies, hamstrung teachers, apathetic parents, bored students.

© Copyright 2015 Linda L Labin, PhD

“And indeed there will be time…

Time for you and time for me,

And time yet for a hundred indecisions,

And for a hundred visions and revisions…

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons…”–TS Eliot ride my turtle

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9 thoughts on “Time

  1. I for one look forward to Daylight Savings time every year- it’ like I can come alive again. if i were to change anything about the practice it would be to do another daylight savings when the days start getting shorter. I like to be outside and work outside. Working on my boat or my car or anything that makes any sort of noise is not allowed in the early morning hours before most people are up and about. In the evening it is considered acceptable to make a reasonable amount of noise until 830 or 9pm at night. The dogs don’t have to wear lights for their night time romps during daylight savings. I can certainly see that morning people would probably prefer it to be lighter earlier in the day but most are driving to work and I would think would be grateful for some more light at the end of the day to maybe mow the lawn etc … anyhow- that’s just me…I do think maths should be done in the head or on paper and smartphones /any phones limited or banned and I like the idea of not being able to study for the SATs … so I can agree on a lot of your other points 🙂

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  2. If I remember correctly (but let’s not count on it!), there was a terrific old film (Woody Allen maybe) that opened with a man writing out a suicide note at his desk just before he lept out the window behind him. The note said, “CHANGE EQUALS DEATH.” It’s true, in many ways our country and its constituents use this as an umbrella motto to hide beneath.
    Change is hard. It requires energy and action. And sometimes the results are appalling. But I agree there is great need for revision. Now if we can simply locate those with the power and foresight to make it happen we’ll be golden. Aye, there’s the rub.

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    • It does sound Woody Allenesque, certainly. The problem is that ‘the people who really know how to run the world are too busy teaching school’…Seriously, though, those in power profit by maintaining the status quo represented by these stagnant ideas and so they waste zillions of our dollars arguing about how many angels can fit on the tip of a pin…

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