It’s summer vacation! Play outside. Drink lemonade. And read these essays for some perspective on why we have summer and what we should do with it.
First, some history. Summer vacation started so that those hardworking nineteenth-century farm kids could stay home and till the fields, right? Well, no. Lucas Reilly has the real story in Mental Floss.
The summer reading list has become both a noble aspiration and a grim burden. Erika Christakis asks parents to “start by keeping our anxious and competitive urges in check and offering stories pitched at genuinely comfortable levels.” She includes lots of book suggestions, too.
Should we even have summer break? Many critics have proposed eliminating it to prevent students from losing knowledge during those months out of school. However, Alfie Kohn finds that the concept of “learning loss” is based less on research and more on the fact that, as part of our general obsession with busyness, “we’re already nervous about time off for children.”
More history: Mark Oppenheimer explains how swimming pools have reinforced American race and class distinctions. He asks us to confront the fact that summer is a luxury that has not been equally shared.
Finally, the original “free-range” parent, Lenore Skenazy, offers a tongue-in-cheek look at the proliferation of summer rules, warnings, and prohibitions.
[paywalled for Wall Street Journal subscribers, but you can maybe read it from this link]