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The Camel: A Horse Designed By A Committee!

The columnist responds to the actions of the Easton School Committee and what he sees as diminishing standards and expectations for our children.

Education is a shared commitment between dedicated teachers, motivated students and enthusiastic parents with high expectations. ~ Bob Beauprez 

Okay, let me see if I have this straight. According to on Nov. 4 in Easton Patch, the Easton School Committee, in its collective wisdom, has appointed an exploratory committee to look into the impact of changing start times for . 

This action, as stated in the article, was prompted by concerns that high school kids learning capabilities may be adversely impacted by the fact that they may not be getting enough sleep. 

Okay, that makes sense. It’s fairly obvious that lack of sleep affects most of us unfavorably. I understand that completely. But does it really necessitate the formation of a special committee to investigate this rather common phenomenon amongst kids in their teens? 

This may be a stretch, but I believe I have a solution to this troublesome dilemma; an idea so unique; so earth shattering that it may shake the entire foundation of all we’ve previously known about childrearing and alter the course of our educational system forever. 

This is an idea so radical, so forward-thinking that at first it may appear to be sheer insanity; the ramblings of a madman [me]. I hesitate to share this revelation with you for fear of ridicule, but I must, if not only for the good of the children. 

I must be totally honest with you. I can’t take any credit for this astonishing discovery. This idea is not of my own making. It’s something I learned from my parents; my father in particular. 

My dad had a brilliant, highly technical method for addressing the problem of adolescent sleep deprivation that I’m sure he would have been more than happy to share with the Easton School Committee but, unfortunately; he passed away in 1987. My brothers and I are convinced, without question, that Bill Buckner’s fielding gaffe in the 1986 World Series killed him, though we have no definitive proof of that. 

So, in my dad’s absence, I am honored to share his tried and true technique for dealing with this problem. Whenever my brothers or I tried to squeeze in a few extra minutes of TV time on a school night or attempted, in any way, to circumvent the allotted time that we were to be in bed [yes, we actually had one]; my dad would jump up from his chair, grit his teeth and yell, “Get to bed and stop whining or I’ll give you something to whine about!” 

That seemed to work just fine for us. 

My dad wasn’t an educated man. He was forced to quit school and go to work at the age of fourteen to help his family out financially after his father passed away unexpectedly.   

Three years later, at the ripe old age of 17 (the age of some of the poor, unfortunate students that aren’t getting enough sleep), he enlisted in the United States Navy and subsequently served for three years in the Pacific Theater where I believe he probably didn’t get a whole lot of sleep due to all the explosions and the Kamikaze planes diving at his ship and the bullets strafing the deck and; well, I’m sure you get my drift. 

Allow me to share his resume. 

Arthur E Havey, Seaman 1st Class, U.S. Navy, LCI (L) 373, April 7 1943-April 26 1946. Marshall Islands operation: Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls, Eniwetol Atolls. Mariana Islands operation: Capture and occupation of Saipan, Capture and occupation of Tinian. Leyte operation: Leyte landings. Luzon operation: Lingayen Gulf landing. Okinawa Gunto operation: Assault and occupation of Okinawa. WW II victory medal, Philippine liberation medal (2 stars) Asiatatic Pacific theatre medal, naval unit commendation, 4 battle stars. 

No, my dad wasn’t highly educated in the academic sense, but he had a PhD in common sense, and it served him well. Common Sense 101; a course that should be made mandatory in all our schools. 

The Easton School Committee has cited studies that suggest adolescents and teens have difficulty learning early in the morning. I’m not sure when this trend began, but I can tell you that this is another in a very long list of modern dilemmas that did not exist when I was in school, nor when my parents were in school, nor any parents in our history. In the not too distant past, many kids in Easton and other rural communities lived on farms and got out of bed at dawn to do chores before going to school. Apparently, there were no studies or exploratory committees back then. I can’t imagine how they survived! 

In the Patch article I referenced previously, , school committee member Colleen Less stated, “….by the time [the students] are in middle school you’re pulling them out of the bed with their feet," adding that, “….their body’s timing is such at this stage in their development that they find it difficult to go to bed." 

What! They find it difficult to go to bed because of their body’s timing? I don’t seem to recall that particular syndrome from my childhood. I may not have wanted to go to bed. Most kids want to stay up to watch TV or whatever, but I don’t seem to remember finding it difficult to go to bed. I found it difficult not to go to bed because if I didn’t my option was to have my dad put me to bed; not an option I was all that interested in. When he told me it was time for bed, I went to bed! Period! End of story! My body’s timing was in perfect sync with his timing. Funny how that worked, huh? 

But that was then and this is now. Apparently, the politically correct thing to do is to lower the bar for our children; to teach them to strive for mediocrity. 

Let’s hope they don’t achieve that goal! 

They deserve better! 

Bob Havey is an Easton-based freelance writer and a consummate trouble-maker. His column, "The View From Here", appears each Tuesday at http://easton-ma.patch.com and on Wednesday at http://mansfield-ma.patch.com . His column, The Way I See It, runs every other Wednesday at http://norton.patch.com.

Frida November 16, 2011 at 03:21 PM
Very thoughtful column. Our children are being victimized by the 'adults' who continually 'lower the bar' as you said. I don't know when this began but it needs to be stopped or we'll have a generation - and generations to come - who won't be able to function in the real world. This alledged study is crap - through and through. Easton residents should be disgusted by this and they should act to stop it. We all need to remain watchful so this type of 'dumbing down' cannot creep in to our schools.
Vilma Sceusa June 12, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Enjoyed the article Bob and your trademark humor. As the parent of two teens, I can tell you that academic pressure fueled by the competition for college and the endless supply of digital distractions are two of the reasons our children are sleep deprived. Sadly, I'm not so sure that pushing kids over the edge for a stellar college resume really builds character versus good old fashioned chores.
Bob Havey June 14, 2012 at 12:27 PM
I'm glad you enjoyed the column, Vilma. Thanks!
ELAINE NORDBERG ROCK June 24, 2012 at 06:13 PM
You hit the proverbial nail right on the head, Bob. Enough 'dumbing down' in our schools, lowering the standards for modern days kids, schools, jobs, reading capabilities, and that BS. The world NEEDS SMARTER END PRODUCTS. We have kids today who can't spell anymore, don't READ because they can't SPELL in the first place to be ABLE to read, cannot follow reading directions on how to assemble basic things, etc. STOP THE STUPIDITY. NEED MORE SLEEP -- THEN GO TO BED EARLIER. Put some discipline in your lives for goodness sakes! The world is not supposed to change to suit their laziness, etc., they are supposed to IMPROVE THE WORLD! That cannot be done on lazy stupid habits!!! I cannot believe what 'adults' are trying to do these days to 'accommodate' children!!
Bob Havey June 25, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Wow, Elaine! You've done a lot of reading! I think you've read nearly all my columns in a very short period of time. Thanks and I'm very glad you enjoyed them!

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