For most students, the new school year is now underway.  I imagine that it won’t be long before my favorite “school supply aisles” will be reduced through clearance and then moved out to make room for Halloween and Christmas merchandise.

Growing up, shopping for school supplies was one of the great thrills of the year.  I labored over which perfect lunch box or folder to purchase, and treasured each new writing implement even way back then.

Good thing I got my fix when I did because the contemporary student supply list barely resembles mine.  Never mind the technology, now parents are expected to foot the bill for a host of communal supplies that were never even remotely considered a family expense back in the dark ages when I roamed the elementary classrooms.  Today’s students are required to buy reams of copy paper, garbage bags, resealable bags, whiteboard markers, tissues, sanitizer, wet wipes and paper cups, just to name a few.

Worst of all, children no longer get to pick out their favorite character on folders: now it is “6 two-pocket folders without fasteners; 1 each in red, yellow, green, blue, purple and orange.”  BOR-ING.  No wonder we lament about stifling children’s creativity when this is how we start them out — sharing a pile of plain folders instead of expressing their own individuality with their personal supplies.

I am sure there are psychological reasons as well as economic ones behind the evolution of the lists.  (And I suspect my school district friends will point them all out to me!)  But from a school-supply-junkie Aunt, there is something missing when a care package to my nieces and nephews needs to be tissues and Ziplocs or supplies they can only use at home.

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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