‘Go Ahead, Let Your Kids Play Hooky’

WBUR’s Cognoscenti

March 3rd, 2014 by 


In a recent piece for WBUR’s Cognoscenti , Leah Hager Cohen, award-winning author and the College of the Holy Cross Jenks Chair of Contemporary American Letters, explains why taking a day off from school can be educational.

She writes, “My own parents had a fairly relaxed approach toward school attendance. As a child I was pretty much allowed to take a day off anytime I asked. It’s not that my parents thought education unimportant (they met in teacher training school). It’s just that they didn’t see education as being limited to what happens in the classroom.”

She shares that she didn’t take excess advantage of their beliefs. “If I’d tried, they likely would have amended their policy. But with their blessing I did take a day off at least every other month, and some of my very best and most formative experiences happened as a direct result of skipping school.”

Her own son took two days out of school recently because he had his wisdom teeth removed. “But oh, how it filled me with joy, and no little nostalgia, to see how he spent these serendipitous hours. Swollen-cheeked, Tylenol-with-codeined and all, he threw himself into composing and recording music — three or four new songs in those two days — melodies, harmonies, lyrics, multiple tracks laid down with guitar, percussion and vocals. He lost himself in ungoverned, ungraded creative exploration. And found in himself something of worth,” she writes.

One of those songs her son created, while home sick, was played on WBUR at the end of this piece.

Cohen’s latest novel No Book But the World” will be released on April 3, 2014 by Riverhead Books.

Her book “The Grief of Others” (Riverhead, 2011) will soon hit the big screen. Production for the movie has started and will shoot in April in Nyack, N.Y. The cast includes Rachel Dratch (“Saturday Night Live”), Wendy Moniz and Trevor St. John (“One Life to Live”); and is directed by Patrick Wang, who’s first film “In the Family” was nominated for the 2012 Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature.

This “Holy Cross in the News” item by Cristal Steuer.

For additional information, please contact Cristal Steuer at 508-793-2419.

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