W ith the strains of summer behind us and a foot over the threshold of September, there’s no mistaking the one thing that’s occupying the minds of kids everywhere. Indeed, it’s back to school, folks.

There’s nothing like having the stretch of another year of school ahead of you. For one, it’s an opportunity for a fresh start, to get to know new people, make new friends, learn new things. It’s also the time to take on a new commitment or two that will do yourself and others proud, like starting to get homework done on time, getting your stuff organized, or making an effort to start looking out for kids in need of a friend or kind word.

Summer fun it’s maybe not, but hey, who said school can’t have its own fair share of pleasure? Join us as we explore what the adults have to tell us about their memories and regrets, the things they’d do and the things they wish they’d known, and what they’d do differently if they only had the opportunity to go back to school, like you guys do now.

Meet the interviewees:

Debbie graduated high school in 1971 and is now a bubby to many school-aged grandchildren.

Yudit graduated in 2010 and has since taught most subjects from ICT (information and communication technology) to creative writing to history.

Brachah graduated “decades ago,” in 1979, but is now reliving school with her children, each according to his or her strengths and weaknesses.

Rabbi S. went from cheder to yeshivah ketanah in 1980.

When I was in school I wish I knew that...

Debbie: It’s okay to be me.

Brachah: School doesn’t last forever.

Yudit: Exam results are not the be-all and end-all. Sometimes I just didn’t care about anything else and was too “busy” to enjoy other stuff, like my friends and family, so obsessed was I with doing well.

Rabbi S.: School is a stepping-stone for life in the future. When I was in school, I thought lessons stop at graduation, but now I see that life is one long school experience; you never stop learning.

If I could go back in time and be in school for a week, I would...

Brachah: Go straight to second grade. I’d like to go back there and observe my teacher to discover what it was that made her punish me and my friend day after day and keep us inside the classroom instead of letting us go out for recess.

Debbie: Take the effort to learn my times tables properly.

Yudit: Embrace the opportunity. Because once you’re out in the world, there’s absolutely nothing like just being somewhere where you’re learning for its own sake, and getting that heady rush that comes along with discovering and absorbing.

Rabbi S.: Stop daydreaming about what I’d do when I grow up! Listening to the teacher would have enriched me with the tools I’d need as a grownup.

School is very different today than in my time because...

Debbie: There were no computers, or even calculators. I remember standing in line for hours for the chance to play tic-tac-toe on a computer at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.

Yudit: There’s a huge generation gap. (They say a generation is ten years, but now they’ve cut it to half — to only five years!) And we didn’t have the nisyonos that kids these days contend with, like dealing with technology and being able to make your own choices in so many areas we couldn’t.

Rabbi S.: We went to school with boys from all backgrounds: chassidish, Georgian, litvish, Sephardic, yekkish, and everything in between. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 675)