Sophie and I have a rare evening together at home tonight. Her younger sister is in Portland with my folks and her mom is up in Norridgewock with HER mom helping with the knee surgery recovery. Man it is good that summer vacation is a thing. We'd never get it all done otherwise.
It occurred to me earlier this month that when I add it up I get about one fifth of the year to do work I choose. 20% (about 10 weeks). What a gift. That's commensurate with the time Baxter gives its students for their Flex Friday work (20% of the school year, so still less of a year than my summer, but 20% of school time!) and Flex Friday was, to my mind and in my limited experience, one of the best ways to maintain engagement and drive authentic student learning I've yet seen.
It is not a coincidence that Google, 3M and other tech innovators gave their employees that same 20%. Those companies are all now looking hard at that practice and it's structure--as are we. Baxter is taking a thorough look at Flex Friday with an eye towards what students have demonstrated that they need.
The real reason I feel so grateful for my summer is the same reason Sophie's kindergarten teacher loves summer so much. Not for the break (she and I both worked hard this year, and we also both loved our kids) but for the unstructured time of growth. Learning doesn't stop with school. I cannot know where the seeds I've done my best to plant will sprout, nor what strange and wondrous blooms will result from the unpredictable and fertile environment of the adolescent mind. But grow they will, regardless of my intention and inevitably affected by my work.
Let them. I've already got some plans for next fall. And the girls and I need to go build a treehouse.