Through high school and college and graduate school, I took my "job" as student seriously. Though I had a lot of fun during those precious years of youth, I applied myself academically. Studying and learning, however, were secondary to the thrill of checking off assignment after assignment, class after class, quarter after quarter toward an end goal. And the many notebooks filled with class notes, graded tests, term papers, and quizzes became the tangible evidence of my efforts and successes. Unable to let go, I saved everything in boxes in my parents' attic, just knowing that someday I would bring it out again to reference, to admire, to run my fingertips over the ink impressed pages.
Now, 20 years later, I'm raising children who horde old schoolwork. The DNA they inherited from me predisposes them to want to hang on to things, even if they never plan to look at the stuff again. By the time the oldest finished first grade, I knew I had a big problem on my hands and that my attic would never have room for my old school papers if my kids kept stuffing it with theirs.
My children, along with several of their friends, start in school September with sights set on saving several pounds of papers to gloriously set aflame in 9 months. The better the school year, the bigger the blaze. And the emptier my attic.