Back to school: a lesson in adjectives

Now it's season-changing September, the 30-day month of gradually-falling temperatures,gentle rainy days and back-to-school challenges for students and teachers (unless you live in semi-tropical Florida, as we did for 17 eventful years, where back-to-school is in steamy-hot August, for obscure reasons I do not fully understand).

autumn leaves on the Czech-Austrian border
In temperate Prague, where I live at the moment, you see kids of all ages on the street in somewhat-intimidating, noisy groups in the early morning, at midday lunch (high-schoolers smoking outside the school doors) and in the mid-afternoon, after school. The newly-heated trams are full of boisterous students, with perhaps a few resigned teachers, instructors or professors sitting quietly reviewing their upcoming classes. You see dutiful university students streaming in and out of a variety of university buildings: graffiti-enhanced Functionalist concrete 1970's buildings at the University of Economics (VŠE) or stately 19th-century neo-Renaissance, neo-Gothic or pre-Secessionalist buildings, or 20th century Modernist bulidings at the Czech Technical University (ČVUT).

Since I have been either a so-so student or an energetic teacher most of my life, I get a surge of adrenalin when school starts, no matter where I live.  I have always felt at home in pubic or private schools, even if I have been sometimes bored or irritated, overwhelmed or under-stimulated. School is, by turns, exhilarating, adventurous, exciting, grueling, maddening, discouraging, impossible, delightful, tedious and all-too-quick to end. The work in school is unbearable repetitive or too loaded with new ideas to comprehend. Teachers are kind, giving and generous, or they are mean, grudging and stingy. Students are receptive, hard-working and respectful, or they are little monsters.

Any typical school or standard university is a virtual microcosm, a world in itself. The daily dramas of life are on display at school, with every kind of dastardly villain, innocent victim, scheming trickster, and courageous hero-of-the-moment known to mankind.

It's back-to-school, so get out your dusty dictionary, your untouched thesaurus, your hated calculator and your keenest thinking skills, so you can be the outstanding student or the brilliant professor. Best of luck as you scale the immensely tall peaks of learning!


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