Taking Stock - September 9, 2013

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Have you noticed the rush hour traffic getting worse? Maybe you’ve spotted the ranks of frantic parents scouring the clothing aisles in search of easy iron, short sleaved shirts in a size which long-since sold out.

If you have then you’ll probably know it’s back to school time.

For The Munchkin that means the shock transition from Reception, little more than a glorified playgroup where learning is very much by stealth, to Year One, where education starts in earnest.

For a nephew the change has been even more significant – from primary to secondary.

I remember it well – leaving many old friends behind, not to mention the comfort of the tiny village classroom, the seemingly endless corridors of the big school far more threatening.

Then there was homework.

Back in my day it involved carting untold numbers of text books to and from home each and every day in a rucksack I’m sure is to blame for my now near-permanent backache.

There were French books, with pictures of children engaged in typically gallic activities (eating crepes, playing boules... that kind of thing) while dressed in the top fashions of the 1970s.

There were maths books with well-thumbed pages of solutions at the back and geography texts, all of which seemed to deal with the gross national product of Venezuela.

Weighty tomes they were and, when added to rugby kits on a Wednesday (which always came home weighing twice as much as they did in the morning), they proved a real challenge for your average 11-year-old.

Nowadays it’s all done online, computers replacing the traditional fountain pen and blotting paper – I suppose it means nobody can get away, any more, with claiming the dog ate their homework.

I wonder what the excuses might be these days.

“I couldn’t get a broadband connection, sir”.

“I would have done it but my mum was playing Candy Crush...”

Still, if it removes the need for that heavy bag, I suppose it’s progress.

Now, if they could just find a way around that rugby kit...