tillbaka till skolan: back to school (and thoughts on academic approaches to the holidays)

The kids started back to school yesterday. A 7 AM wake up came early and dark, especially having routinely slept (at least me and Elizabeth) until around 10 AM during the break.

Hard to remember what we were doing before the break. Our trip to Norway was fantastic, and the last week as the kids were out of school we treated as a "staycation"- a chance to work a bit in the mornings, and play in the afternoon. Saw an IMAX film on rescue dogs, went to the Star Wars film, went to the Natural History museum, ice skated, climbed, read a lot, cooked some good meals. Nice to have some quiet time to catch up a bit.

It's been quite a stretch of the kids not having too much school work since about 13 December- Santa Lucia day. Their last week of school before the holidays involved concerts, movies, and more. Stephen was pretty excited to play the electric bass for a couple of in-school concerts before school let out, so that's something.

We finally looked at the feedback the kids received from the fall semester-- both are doing well, along with remarks from teachers suggesting that they talk more in class. Not a surprise- students are shy after moving to a new country. Given the length of their break, we took a look the materials they are missing from their school district in Pennsylvania and gave them a research & essay writing assignment over the holidays... lucky them! Stephen tackled the history of slavery, while Elizabeth looked at Sacajawea as an explorer and a Native American.

They were both game to start school again, but it may take a bit to ramp back up. After returning from school last night, Stephen reported that they are starting a new unit (on something like meeting challenges) so they were headed for a trip to play laser tag today. What?! 

Yesterday was really the first day back for the kids and for us, but apparently also most of Sweden (see my post about Twelfth Night & the holidays. Tuesday was apparently a teacher prep day across the country, so for anyone with kids, work didn't start until Wednesday). The holiday break was fully from Dec. 21st- Jan. 8th.

On the academic side, Chris reported that in talking with his Swedish colleagues yesterday about what they had done over the holidays, they watched movies, recovered from being sick, hung out with their families. He reported that in his conversation with a U.S. colleague, they had done a lot of work. On my end, during today's Uppsala Peace & Conflict Research Department's weekly department wide "fika" (coffee), people talked about the family they'd seen, the puzzles they had done, their travels. Nothing about work. Some about the abnormally warm weather.

The contrast is striking between the academic approach to the holidays in the U.S. and Sweden. This is not just our personal reaction. In December, the New York Times published an article entitled "There’s No Winter Break From ‘Publish or Perish,’" noting that of academic researchers most likely to submit a paper over the winter holiday break, the U.S. is 3rd (behind Belgium and Japan). The article further states that "More than a tenth of U.S.-based researchers who submitted manuscripts and peer review reports to journals did so during the holidays."

Last on the list of those likely to submit academic papers during the holidays? Academic researchers in Sweden.

Pretty light this morning in Stockholm (around 8 AM to give a sense of the light, which is coming back in notable form!)