Yesterday evening we held our annual Back-to-School Night at Weston High School. You know the drill: the parents come to school, arrive late at their first-period class because they can’t find a parking space, go to one ten-minute class after another in a frantic parody of a school day — and everyone goes home exhausted at 9 PM. And yet the experience is useful (for all) and even exhilarating (for some). Even someone who talks as fast as I do can’t say a whole lot in ten minutes, but that isn’t really the point. In fact, in our modern world of the Internet, the purpose of Back-to-School Night isn’t to communicate information; parents can use the World Wide Web to find out everything they need to know about their kids’ courses, at least if we’re talking about Weston High School math courses. The real purpose is to establish some brief human contact between parent and teacher, so the parents can make us feel appreciated by letting us know how much their sons and daughters are enjoying our courses, and the teachers can make the parents feel positive by showing them that we’re enthusiastic and competent.
You can probably tell that I’m in the camp that finds Back-to-School Night exhilarating.