It is mid-morning on August 23, 2010, and school bells all over the mid-Atlantic region are ringing once again. My academic year does not begin for another week, but, essentially, my summer is over as well. This week marks the beginning of my annual scramble to get prepared for the onslaught of the fall (and eventually spring) term. Finalizing my course syllabi, reading all the new books that I have assigned for the upcoming semester, triple checking the campus bookstore to ensure that all of those books have been ordered—all tasks that will keep my busy this week and that will bring my summer to a screeching halt.
Since I have been at this teaching thing for just about a decade now—and since I had a career as a student than spanned pretty much 2/3 of my life prior to purchasing large packets of red pens—I should not continue to be surprised when mid-August finds all manner of stress and trepidation bubbling to the surface of my consciousness. I have found that being “on the opposite side of the desk”, as the saying goes, does not make the beginning of any academic year significantly less anxiety-inducing than when I was searching for the latest Trapper Keeper design, or pair of Reebok Pump shoes, or copy of OK Computer, or edition of Foucault’s Discipline and Punish. Therefore, it never fails that the barrage of Back-to-School advertisements that flits across my television screen from roughly July 5 to about right now still causes me to cry out in anguish. (At the same time, snow days still bring me immeasurable amounts of giddy joy.)
Having said all that, I have to give credit to Brigham Young University, specifically the members of the Harold B. Lee Library Multimedia Production Crew, for producing what is probably the best Back-to-School ad this season. Riffing on the popular Old Spice campaign, Stephen Jones and co. make studying sound immensely more delicious than, say, the folks over at Ross do—despite the cotton candy:
Regardless of where and when you study, here’s to a great academic year for teachers and students alike. May the upcoming months bring all of us many celestial sandwiches. Oh, and a few A papers, too.