Summer school

Namine starts a month of summer school this week.

It’s official: Namine has completed her first year of high school. She had one week off, and now she’s starting a month (well, from the 5th to the 29th) of summer school. She had her choice of two classes out of I don’t know how many — the RVA has quite a wide array — and she chose Creative Writing and Medical Terminology.

Namine has always been a creative person. She’s always crafting stories, whether in art or prose, on physical or digital media. So it’s no surprise that she would want to sign up for a class that encourages that creative output.

Namine’s other choice of class might seem to have come out of the blue, but it doesn’t really. She’s been exposed to the inner workings of the medical field for literally all of her life. She is already quite informed about her own medical conditions and needs, but she naturally wants to expand her knowledge past herself. One of her aspirations is to go into the medical field herself — whether for humans or animals is still undecided — so this a class on medical terminology is an obvious first step.

When Jessica told me that she and Namine had finished signing her up for summer school, I was surprised. I asked Namine if she was not doing well. She was; she finished out the school year with mostly As and Bs, and a couple Cs. (Not too different from Jessica and myself when we were young, to be honest.)

No, enrolling Namine in summer school was not in response to poor performance, but rather an effort to keep her brain active beyond the normal reading and self-led learning she normally does. Jessica — a teacher by training and trade, remember — explained to me that studies have shown that students who do not engage in active learning over the summer actually see a decline in their academics.

This is an opportunity for me to rise out of my own ignorance to learn something new. When I was a boy, the term “summer school” was synonymous with punishment. You did poorly in school the previous year — maybe you didn’t get held back, but poorly enough that it was a concern — so you had to continue attending school over the summer.

That’s a misconception I know I’m not alone in having. I can’t do anything about it in others, probably, but I can certainly rectify it in myself. My hope is that in writing about it, I can spread awareness and correct the perception. A rising tide lifts all boats, after all.

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