Back to School 2005-2006

by Marjorie Wolfe
Syosset, New York

Way back in 1979, the late Sam Levenson wrote about his days as a student at Brooklyn College. A Professor of Education taught his future teachers one simple rule: "Tell-em what you're gonna 'learn 'em'; then 'learn 'em'; then ask ""Em: 'What did I just 'learn you'?"

Twenty-six years later professors are addressing issues like "cell phone elbow," "Backpack envy" (jealousy of those students who own a $120 Zucas ultimate activity carry-alls backpack with a built-in seat), "Next Anxiety" (fear of being caught in a moment of crushing uncool- ness by carrying the wrong iPod or reading the wrong book), and "15 minutes of Shame" (the heightened experience of shame or embarrassment. Ex.

Q. "What are you reading in 11th grade English?"

A. "Waiting for Good Dough.")

Shown below are some concerns that must be addressed by college professors, educators, students, and parents"

BULLYING Bullying is a common experience for many children and adolescents. As many as half of all children are bullied at some time during their school years. At least 10% are bullied on a regular basis. Bullying can be physical or verbal.

Be sure to read Rita Y. Toews' book titled, "The Bully - A Discussion and Activity Story." Visit the author online at

BUS SAFETY The Academy of Pediatrics suggests you remind your children to . Wait for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb. Check to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing.

  • Avoid moving around on the bus.
  • Never bend down in front of a bus to tie shoes or to pick up dropped objects. The driver may not see you before starting to move.


U. S. students have fallen behind in math achievement. Here's how 15-yuear-olds rank against their peers, by country:

1. Finland
2. South Korea
3. Canada
4. Hong Kong
5. Netherlands
28. United States

6.9 million copies of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" were sold within 24 horus of its U. S. release. Put on your thinking cap. Approximately how many copies were sold per hour?

a) 250,000
b) 320,000
c) 480,000
The correct answer is a).


Children who neglect other books by rereading the Harry Potter series suffer from Harry Potter Addiction.


Prof. John Cech said that revisiting books and movies "...offers enormous consolation. And that is more important in a world that's much more fragmented and more fragile."


The matching of younger kids with older kids for reading is called "buddy reading."


Parents say they plan to spend $296.20 to outfit their kids for the new school year, according to America's Research Group.

ACADEMIC HONESTY Academic honesty is a concept that all students must learn. is recognized as the standard in online plagiarism prevention. Turnitin helps educators and students take full advantage of the Internet's education potential. It's a proprietary system that instantly identifies papers containing unoriginal materials.

CASHLESS SOCIETY Many school systems are installing a cashless system with swipe cards and punch pads starting in September. Many poor kids are humiliated when submitting food vouchers while their classmates point and stare. They call it "welfare food."

BRAINY BREAKFAST Feeding your children's brain and body in the morning will set the stage for a fruitful and educational day.

CAFETERIA COMPETITION Many schools are located within 400 feet of a bodega, bakery, candy store or fast-food joint.

New York Magazine recorded the food consumed by a 15-year-old Brooklyn 19th grader:

8:00 a.m. home stick of gum
8:10 a.m. stick of gum
10:05 a.m. school 6 Oreos
12:30 3/4 pack of M&Ms
l:40 p.m. Popeyes Buttermilk biscuit
l:45 p.m. McDonald's. Half a chicken strip
6:40 p.m. Domino's. Slice of pizza
7:15 Bag of puffin' corn
11:50 p.m. home 1 1/2 glasses of banana milk shake


One school offered Spongebob fat-free milk day. Children received flavored-milk cartons with pictures of the pillow-shaped character stamped on the container, and a Gardenburger promotion that included a raffle for iPod shuffles.

NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND In federal No Child Left Behind Law we're raising the stakes this recruiting season for school officials seeking credentialed teachers. By the end of the coming school year, the law requires "highly qualified" teachers in all core academic classes.

GRADING SYSTEMS The NYPD gave architect David Childs an "F" on security for his design of Freedom Tower. A, B, C, D, F or ..... Some teachers want to eliminate the word "fail" from the classroom grading system. Pupils in London who don't make the grade would receive a mark of "deferred success."

ESQUIRE MAGAZINE The June 2004 issue of Esquire contained Rule No. 292: "Taking a yellow Hi-Liter to a TV Guide does not an academic make."

SECRET Arnold Fine ("I Remember When") shares this secret: "...ninety percent of the time the teachers make up their final exams three quarters of the way through the term. So if you think back to that period of time--what was covered by then--shoen you'll know what pages to worry about!"


  • Jake Harper ("Two and a Half Men"), a lazy slacker, skips his homework and gives his teacher the finger, resulting in his suspension.
  • Bart Simpson ("The Simpsons") swaps I.Q. test paper with the class genius.
  • Jordan Thomkins ("The Bernie Mac Show") sets off a fire alarm to avoid a school test; wears a fake cast to get out of a tough gym class while others suffer.


2-by-4-by-6 paradigm = the two covers of a textbook, the four walls of a classroom and the six hours a day that most students are in school. As a tool to enhance education, Virtual Schools offers students an outlet for learning on their own and a resource to parents looking to outsource certain areas of study. Check out Virtual High School (


Richard C. Koo, chief economist for the Nomura Research Institute, told Thomas L. Friedman ("The World Is Flat"), "There is a saying in China that whatever you put in your head and your stomach, no one can take away from you...You just have to study hard and move forward."


Overinvolved parents who flood campus orientations meddling with registration and interfering with students' dealings with professors, administrators and roommates.


College students trained to divert moms and dads who try to attend registration and explain diplomatically that they're not invited.


To drop out of law school, medical school, or business school, as seen through the eyes of parents, grandparents, and Uncle Sid. (In extreme cases, simply choosing a major in art history when Irv's son, David, is majoring in biology, is sufficient grounds for "diskvellification."


"And mothers and fathers with Master's degrees have harpsichord tuners for sons." (Judith Viorst)


Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of a book titled, "Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction? Yiddish Trivia." When asked about what's the biggest advantage of going back to school as a retiree, she replied, "If you cut classes, no one calls your parents."

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