August 15, 2023
The dreaded time has come: summer is ending. Children must now leave fun and frolicking in the sun behind to return to that stuffy school building. Of course, some may be looking forward to going back. But many may be looking upon this time with melancholy and trepidation.
It can be hard to find words of comfort for those young ones at this time. If you have someone who feels like they are about to enter an institution of torture, you could always use this tried and true axiom: “It could be worse.” If a child feels like their school is the foulest, try reminding them of some of these nightmare schools in literature that they could have the misfortune of attending.
For example, how about Hailsham--the fictional boarding school in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. Sure everybody seems nice and you can take as many art classes as you like. The only problem is you are being harvested for your organs and will eventually be eliminated altogether because you are actually a clone.
Then there is the Lowood Institution in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. On the surface it might seem a good thing to have a charity school for girls. However, the cold rooms, poor meals, tuberculosis, and horrible Mr. Brocklehurst won’t exactly make for the best years of your life.
But what about the Wayside School in the Wayside School book series by Louis Sachar? Wouldn’t that crazy, mixed-up school be a great place to get an education? I guess, unless you wind up on the 30th floor after turning green from eating the Mushroom Surprise in the cafeteria.
Crunchem Hall could be a nice place. I mean Roald Dahl’s Matilda did meet the wonderful Miss Honey there. Unfortunately, the place is ruled with an iron fist by the evil Miss Trunchbull who walks around with a leather whip and locks students into a coffin-sized detention closet.
Forks High from the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer is infested with vampires.
Dothebys Hall from Nicholas Nickleby is your typical Charles Dickens nightmare with starvation and abuse. And you learn absolutely nothing since you are spending all your time doing chores.
How about the school that so many children actually dream of going to: Hogwarts from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling? If a child in your life wishes they were there instead, you can always remind them of the incredibly high body count, horrible spells gone wrong, and people getting turned to stone.
So when your student is grumbling as they walk out the door, remind them that there are worse schools they could be attending. After all, they could be dropped on an island and forced into combat like the students in the unnamed Junior High from Battle Royale by Koshun Takami. In comparison to death, math class doesn’t sound so bad.