I am relieved that I am writing this entry in March. February has the fewest days of any month in the year, but do not tell people who attend or teach school that it is the shortest month. In fact it feels to many (most?) people in schools that it is the longest month of the year. I have thought of that anomaly especially this year as much of our country has endured the most severe winter weather in many years. We know that some people suffer from seasonal affective disorder during the winter months.
For many years I attributed the February doldrums in schools to the season of the year, but I have lately come to the conclusion that is not the case. Climate does not explain it since I believe the doldrums set in here in Phoenix also even though February marks the beginning of perhaps the most glorious weather of our year. As a result I have pondered what might be another explanation for the ennui that seems to set in for many of us in schools.
I would suggest that there may be “school affective disorder” that afflicts us during the longest month of February. What might be the causes? Christmas break is fading into a memory, and spring break is still too far away. Our oldest students begin to learn their next educational destination, which understandably prompts them to wonder why their teachers keep teaching and keep expecting them to learn. Adults and students fall into patterns and exhibit behaviors that annoy by virtue of their familiarity and predictability. Even Valentine’s Day does not does not do much to counter the lack of sizzle in February.
What might be the remedies? First of all, we might allow ourselves to embrace the inevitability of the sluggishness of the season, take a deep breath, and not inflate the significance of the lethargy we may feel. For Christian believers the beginning of Lent can give a spiritual focus to our reflection during this arid season. (Alas, this year February did not even provide that re-start opportunity since Lent just began on March 5!) And we ought not to dismiss the days of February too readily. After all any given day is the only day we have to live, and we can choose happiness and hope even in February. As Abraham Lincoln was reported to have said, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Making up our minds to be happy may be especially important in February. But for those who are not ready to take Honest Abe’s advice: Beware, without fail the longest season will soon enough morph into frenzied activity as we all prepare to complete the school year energetically, positively and completely. And in those times we may be longing for a bit of lethargy.
Until next time…