|from 21 Jump Street|
One of the amusing moments is when Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, incompetent cops going undercover in a high school to break up a drug ring, are dressing for their first day of school and debating how to carry a backpack. Hill is a "two-strapper"; Tatum insists that's not cool (see photo). And when they get to the school, they see everyone is two-strapping. Tatum refuses to adapt; Hill realizes he could've been cool if he'd grown up in the current generation. (BTW: At the Kent Starbucks last night I noticed that everyone was two-strapping.)
Anyway, the film got me ... thinking. (Hard to believe.) And I realized I could not remember when I first noticed that my middle school students were carrying backpacks. I do remember that I nearly killed myself when I tripped on one the size of an Appalachian mountain when I was returning papers, up and down and aisle, not noticing ... and wondering who's going camping?
When I was in junior high and high school (1956-1962), no one carried a backpack. Backpacks were for Boy Scouts. Period. Or for a family of singers escaping Nazis by warbling their way over the Alps. The protocols in those years were simple: Guys carried their books at their side, under an arm, notebook on the bottom, textbooks in ascending order (largest on the bottom). One problem: Big kids (aka bullies) could easily knock books to the floor when they walked by. Just to show you.
Girls made the same sort of pile (notebook-on-bottom, etc.)--but carried them, two hands, cradled against their bosoms. (And I will resist, fiercely, the temptation to tell you how, as a lecherous adolescent male (a bit redundant, I know), I sometimes wanted to be a math book.) I just looked through the two yearbooks I have from Hiram High School (1961, 1962) but found no candid shots of kids in hallways going to class. Everything is non-academic in a yearbook, I think--photos of sports and activities and parties and kids doing goofy stuff. On many pages of our yearbook, you'd have a hard time telling that all of this was going on in a school.
Anyway, at some point in school history, just about everyone was carrying a backpack. I could not believe some of the monstrous ones I saw later in my career, at Western Reserve Academy. Some were so large they looked as if they'd require a front-end loader to lift from the ground. Kids got a workout just walking to classes.
Moment of emotion: My last day of public school teaching (16 January 1997), I took that old briefcase to school, one last time. Thinking of my parents ...
I can't remember exactly when I started being a Backpack Guy, but by the time I was teaching at WRA (2001-2010), I was carrying one everywhere--and not just to school. To the coffee shops to read, etc. On airplanes. Car trips. Barber shop. Just about everywhere. And I was a very cool one-strapper--except, of course, when I was on my bike.
|rip in old backpack|
So last night--off we went to OfficeMax for a new one. Which, later today, I will be one-strapping when I walk into Starbucks. Looking cool, as ever.
|the new one!|