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It’s elementary! What college life can learn from the elementary school experience


Illustration by Finley Hogan-Underdahl 


All in favor of having a built-in snack time — of course, snacks are provided — say aye. At the very least, I am in favor of this proposal. Although I enjoy things like driving, voting, and being able to choose my own classes, sometimes I long for the days of elementary school. It’s not just that the day was filled with food, naps, and colorful furniture, it’s also the atmosphere of positivity and simplicity. As an education major, I still get the opportunity to join in on the fun of grade school for an hour a week, and in my opinion, it is the boost everyone needs. 

Snack time is the obvious first thing to reincorporate into our college lives. Firstly, if I’m going to go all scientist for a moment, our brains need energy. We can’t be expected to be engaging in staying upright, much less going to bio labs, if we are not properly fed. The school wants us to be happy, healthy people, and so it should give us snacks. Also, it must be mentioned that snack time at elementary school is often provided by the school. St. Olaf should take notes on this, too. 

Nap time is another top contender for a callback to the elementary school days. I’m not a typical napper, but even I can understand the appeal of having a built-in time to just relax and not have to do work. It’s not about being lazy, it’s about saving up our energy to be focused when we have to be, and to have time to not have to focus as well. Plus, let’s be honest, wouldn’t it be nice to go about your normal daily nap, but be praised for it instead of punished? 

This next one is more of a feeling than a routine, but is still essential to bring back to college. It’s the colors and furniture of elementary school. I’m not saying St. Olaf has no color, and in some places — for example, the lanterns in Tomson — the chairs are pretty nice. However, you can always have more. The vibe of an elementary school brings joy. It makes you feel at peace, celebrated, and comfortable. Even if color isn’t your thing, having a safe space is always important. The best part of elementary school is that you can be you and kids will still love you, especially in the younger grades. That’s what we really need to bring back: the attitude that you being you is joyful and worth celebrating. 

Elementary school is never going to be a place we can fully go back to, but we can bring the joys of it back with us. I will keep working on getting snack time instated at St. Olaf if everyone else can work on bringing the colorful joy of a kindergarten classroom with them wherever they go, even in bio lab.


Alli Hering is from St. Paul, Minn.

Her majors are political science and social studies education.

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