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A Bit of Burgos by Dale Burgos

Going back to school in my day, and today

by Dale Burgos

     Laurentien box
Laurentien pencil crayons and Randy River fashions were a part of going back to school in my day.
  Randy River Facebook photo

Fighting for that last pack of Laurentien pencil crayons or Crayola crayons at Woolco. Travelling store to store to find the right geometry set or scientific calculator listed on your school supply list. Duotangs or portfolios – is there a difference?

Don’t get me started on the names they picked for their colours! Who remembers the Laurentien Hollywood Cerise, Cotton White, Natural Flesh, or Indian Red shades? That naming scheme just shows how out-of-date and inappropriate some were. If I were asked to draw a picture of myself, it was a struggle as I wouldn’t use their colour version for flesh. It would have most likely been Photo or Chestnut brown.

Let’s not forget about finding the right outfit to wear on your first day back. In my day, Randy River in Garden City Shopping Centre was the place to buy my preppy outfits. The store is now long gone, at least I think it is. Funny enough, as are all fashion trends, the 80s seem to be making a comeback.

Yesterday, child #4 went to a thrift store in Victoria and found a cool “retro” sweater. Guess what the tag said? Yep, you guessed it, Randy River! I’m not sure how to feel about my clothing choices as a teen being known as “retro.” However, it was over thirty years ago after all.

It’s nice to see trends return, but there is no denying that we are looking towards the future and doing so at a blistering pace. Most students now have their own smartphone. They can research topics, do complex calculations, check e-mail or socials and even order food delivery all on that one device. I thought I was the cat’s meow in grade 10 when I got a calculator able to store my notes on. Clearly, by even writing “cat’s meow” I have inadvertently dated myself.

So how do we keep up with these new tech trends?

Well, it seems we can’t bury our heads in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening. Why not embrace technology for education? Working in the education system, I have seen schools and educators rapidly integrate digital tools into their teaching methods, transforming how knowledge is imparted and received.

Virtual classrooms and video conferencing are being used more and more – maybe not so much in the traditional classroom but more in the office and post-secondary settings. Our reliance on technology has not been without challenges. Our transition from an analogue to a digital world can also bring about inequalities amongst students who should have equal access to reliable Internet and smart devices.

With costs continuing to rise, not everyone can afford the latest and greatest gadgets. I had the same iPhone for years, but eventually, the manufacturer no longer provided updates, which essentially pushed me to search for a newer device. It’s no coincidence that the large cell phone companies offer really good deals around August each year. Clever marketing, they have!

This September marks the first year that Elizabeth and I do not have a child attending elementary or high school. With Bella graduating a year early, we are now free from report cards, buying bus passes, signing field trip forms, and going to those dreaded parent-teacher conferences where it’s a toss-up on how well the Burgos kids did in the past semester – they all did great by the way, but you never know!

For those still living in the haze of back-to-school, here a few tips that worked well for us:

  • Set up a daily routine. This helped our family know what to expect when to get up or when to do homework.
  • Have a place in the house to study. This gives them their own place to concentrate.
  • Pack healthy lunches (or at least try to). We didn’t. Kids often had cheese and crackers, Bear Paws, granola bars and Chef-Boyardee. They turned out alright, I think.
  • Keep a calendar. School events and doctor’s appointments can be found on my wife’s phone. She’s organized, I am not.
  • Eat at the dinner table. It might not be feasible with some of your work schedules, but for us, we made an effort to have dinner together most nights.

Regardless of what works for your family, I wish you all the best this coming school year.

Dale manages the communications department for a school district in B.C.

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