The miseducation of Bobby Brown?Written by Shannon Szyperski | | firstname.lastname@example.org
While looking over our soon-to-be first grader’s school supply list for this coming academic year, my husband and I began to reminisce about our own school shopping days. We both remember yearning for that holy grail of end-of-the-twentieth-century school supply items: the Trapper Keeper. It had either that flashy splash of brilliant 1980s color or an overly cheesy graphic adorning its oh-so-glorious plastic facade. Its plastic white binding rings slid together as smoothly as someone sliding their hand through their hair after a victorious game of “up high, down low, you’re too slow.”
As important as it seemed at the time, I don’t recall if I ever did score a real Trapper Keeper. However, I do remember narrowly escaping the death grip of its cheap, flapless, metal-ringed knock offs on more than one occasion over the years. After our little stroll down memory lane, I couldn’t help but take a peek on eBay to catch a glimpse of what was once the object of my educational desire.
To my amazement, the Trapper Keeper, while brilliant in terms of marketing prowess, really was just a plastic binder with cheap plastic rings and a Velcro flap. The quest for stylish school supplies was invariably just a microcosm of the general quest for cool that each impending school year was bound to bring.
I am certainly happy that my days of seeking acceptance based on trendiness are over. At this point, I’m so far removed that I’m honestly not even sure if the word “cool” is even utilized any longer as anything but a temperature indicator. Still, I know such days are right around the corner for my children.
Luckily, my eldest has not yet reached that phase of academia. In fact, when I asked him which backpack he wanted this year, he quickly reminded me that he already had a backpack from last year. Fair enough; that’s a sound decision and $14.99 plus tax right back in our pockets. When I realized the price of lunch boxes along with his indifference to purchasing the latest and greatest, I casually suggested that he just take one of the plain ones that we already had at home. Agreed.
I wish we could agree that every year would be like this year. Let’s just forget about any silly must-have three-ring binders or can’t-live-without articles of clothing. Let’s forgo the years of pining for the current decade’s equivalent of parachute pants, Coca-Cola rugby shirts and A-Team lunch boxes. Let’s just make school about learning. What do you say, kids?
I know; socialization is a large part of the learning that takes place in school, and finding your own personal style is a large part of socialization. Yet, I find it a bit sad that I remember caring much more about the dealings of the United Colors of Benetton in school than the dealings of the United Nations. Honestly, as much as I would have lobbied against it in my own school days, school uniforms now seem like an idea with merit.
If we could quantify the brain power students shift away from academics to focus on the latest trends, the result would no doubt be astounding.
I suppose taking a turn at indulging in the scholastic life’s more frivolous offerings is every up-and-coming student’s prerogative. I won’t fault my children for having their icing on their cake, just as I did during my own school days. I only ask that they keep reading, writing and arithmetic as the cake and clothing, TV, video games and music as the icing.
Maybe all of the supplemental pop culture stuff does hold educational value. When my own memory and an electronic dictionary search failed me miserably, I was able to figure out how to spell “prerogative” by popping the phrase “Bobby Brown lyrics” into a search engine. Thanks, Mr. Brown; I guess you have your moments.
Shannon and her husband Michael are raising three children in Sylvania. E-mail her at email@example.com.