School time: Get involved, slow down, and learn stuff

School starts this week. That's noteworthy if you're a student, have children or drive a car.

If you have kids, you likely have had this day circled on the calendar since, oh let's say, the beginning of June.

Some parents eagerly look forward to the beginning of a new school year, mostly so they can shift some of the responsibility for who will care for their children to the school district.

Others, and we hope more of us fall into this category, are genuinely interested in their children's education and are full partners with their schools.

If you're not in the second category, now is the perfect time to join the ranks.

Make the commitment to yourself and to your children to be fully involved in their lives. Don't abdicate the education of your children to an institution.

Attend teacher conferences. Check their homework and grades. Speak positively about their schools and teachers in front of your children.

Make sure they are attending class and prepared to learn -- every day.

Now for the drivers. If you don't have a child in school, you might need this back-to-school reminder a little more than the rest of us.

School is in session, and kids are on the street. For the safety of little (and not so little) pedestrians, be aware of kids on their way to and from school.

For the comfort of your wallet, be aware of school zones, even when kids aren't present.

Yes, 20 mph seems very, very slow. That's by design. No doubt that child who steps off the curb in front of you is distracted by his mental recitation of the Pythagorean theorem or maybe the video game he was playing last night. Either way, you have to watch out for him.

You cannot drive distracted or be in a rush in the morning. Lives and speeding tickets depend on it.

And lastly, we have a word to the students. (If your kids or grandkids don't read this column, you are responsible for pointing this out to them.)

According to author John Green, students ought to be excited for the beginning of the school year because it is a privilege to learn.

He calculates that the opportunity to attend school and get knowledge -- for free -- has been denied to roughly 99.99 percent of the world's population since the beginning of the Agricultural Revolution.

His vlog (that's a video blog on the internet) is much more enthusiastic about why you want to go to school and be a learner of things. Go to Youtube.com and search "John Green education" to get his take on it.

And even if you're not of student age, you're never to old to learn. Why should kids get all the fun?

Be smart. Take a class. Read. Travel. Speak and listen, respectfully, to people who have different opinions than yours.

You will be better off for it. All of us will be better off for it.