We are two weeks into our four-week summer break. While this has been an opportunity for the Learning Coaches to catch up on work that needs to get done, we already miss the Learners! Fortunately, the Learners come back in two weeks!

The Abrome Twitter account (@AbromeEd) follows dozens of teachers and administrators that by most measures could be considered progressive. They warn against the harmful effects of homework, testing, and standardized curriculum. They often recognize that school practices perpetuate inequities and promote authoritarianism and injustice. These teachers are by and large decent people who care about children. Yet, over the summer, they celebrate being away from young people. And it baffles me.

Not too long ago I read a blog post, perhaps by James Altucher or Seth Godin, that talked about an experience the author had. While writing on his laptop at some beach one evening, two inebriated vacationers walked by, and as inebriated people are sometimes apt to do, one of them decided to share her thoughts with the other loudly enough for all to hear. She said something to the effect of, “can you believe he can’t get off his computer even while he’s on vacation!?” His response, though he did not share it with the vacationers, was something to the effect of, “can you believe they work 50 weeks a year just to get away for two weeks of vacation?”

We recognize the value of down time, and we celebrate the learning that can come from new experiences in new settings. Vacations can be amazing, but they should not be an escape from a miserable daily existence. No one should have to live a miserable daily existence, especially children. But for far too many students and teachers, school is that miserable daily existence. And for that reason, they find any break from school to be the highlight of school. 

At Abrome, we removed the practices and structures of schooling that make it miserable for so many. When Learners have the opportunity to drive their own educational experiences, without being dragged down by homework, testing, grades, and mandatory curriculum, they come to see Abrome not as a place to avoid, but as a place they want to be at. 

Our Abrome Learners do not need summer camp to recharge or recuperate, although we encourage Learners and their families to take time off whenever they need it for camps or vacation. We also endeavor to be available for our Learners as often as possible, which is why we have extended our academic year to 210 days. We feel extremely fortunate that our Learners want to be at Abrome, and that our Learning Coaches cannot wait for the Learners to return. It would serve as a huge red flag for us if our Learners and Learning Coaches were more excited about time away from Abrome than time at Abrome.