I’m back at Dawson these days. Even though I’m not teaching right now, I’m finding delicious silences and spaces in which to launch this final assault on my thesis. Regular day class sections are all done. All the marking is done and the final grades have been submitted. Offices are nearly all empty and the support staff seem to be sighing a collective now-we-can-breathe sigh. The halls are long, quiet alleys of flourescent light.
But I’m not alone at Dawson. Aside from the summer-hazed support staff and management, there are others. There are other teachers and there are some rather reluctant-looking students. There are classes being held and papers being graded. Just because this year summer school has slipped past my radar doesn’t mean it has ceased to exist. Faculty members are working their asses off to teach courses designed to be taught in 15 weeks in just 7 weeks. Four hour classes are replacing hour and a half classes. Students do not want to be there. And quite frankly, I don’t think it’s all that different for faculty. Yet they are there. And they will be summer after summer. Even though Oka beach calls them and La Ronde promises edge-of-your-seat thrills, yet still there will be students barely surviving the pain of summer school and faculty pretending they aren’t doing the same thing. While it’s true that a small minority of students are enrolled in summer school in order to get ahead and maybe finish in better stead than their classmates, at the end of the day most students are there because they’ve failed. Either they’ve failed that exact class or they failed another class they needed and therefore are behind. Hence summer school.
Summer school – the world of second chances. The opportunity to give it a better shot. The chance to work harder, to try again, to get it right. It means sacrifices – huge sacrifices if you love summer the way I do – but that is the cost. For seven weeks, summer will be only what you see out the window or in the short dashes across Maisonneuve to get a coffee at Starbucks during the break in that aforementioned four hour class. It will not be the summer of your childhood. It will not be the summer you dream of. But it is a gift nonetheless – even if every second of it hurts.
Not every failure has its summer school redemption option, that’s true. But some do and I hope that I seize those opportunities to try again.