7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Holly Jahangiri
    Jun 02, 2012 @ 12:11:32

    First, my objections: Agriculture aside, kids need time to BE kids – they need play time. They often don’t get any, because the streets are no longer a safe place to roam in many communities, so their at-home play time ends up being in front of a PC or gaming console or TV. Structured activities often aren’t any fun. (Scouting can be both – structured and fun – and should always encourage kids to be unselfconscious KIDS, while still learning to be leaders.) Many kids are already overextended with extracurricular activities – but that’s a parent/child choice. An extended school day would not offer much chance to try things not offered in school – like fencing classes, which my son loves. IF the schools did a better job of using the time and IF they could offer this kind of enrichment, I would be more enthusiastic about longer days or year-round schooling.

    We had recess right up through 8th grade, when I was a kid. And yet – we still managed to work in a really excellent education. Let’s see: English, History (state, national, and international), a foreign language (I took both French and Latin), Math, Science, Phys. Ed., Art, and Music. And not some little abbreviated “let’s do art to say we have an art program” art – in 7th grade, we learned drawing, textile arts, clay, painting, papier mache, and jewelry making, to name a few – and found time to work on projects in each throughout the school year. We had summers off. Our classes ran from 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM. And we had study halls, but you can be sure we were not using the time for play time – we were using it to get our homework done – either ahead of time or to turn in because we “forgot it” the day before. We did not have “skills for living” or DARE or “teen leadership” classes during the day. We did have units on human reproduction – taught with a minimum of giggles and a high degree of no-nonsense scientific accuracy and food for thought (it was not a class on whether we ought to have sex or not – it was a class that taught how our bodies worked – if we wanted more than that, we could ask questions, but I don’t remember any “preaching” or judgment).

    I’m told that some students have jobs to help their families survive, financially. That’s sad – but it’s a reality for many. Those kids are already exhausted and can barely hold their heads up through the school day – they need more sleep time, not necessarily more instructional time.

    Now, for the pros: Yes, I think more instructional time would be warranted – IF used properly and not put in place merely to fill the time or as a stopgap measure for those parents who won’t do their job. Ask yourself why there are kids at any school who have access to Halo in the classroom at all? I think there’s value in the enrichment a family vacation can offer, too. If hours/school year is extended, there should be provision for taking your kids out of school and providing them a “mini-mester” on the world. A report on their return might be in order. 🙂 We need to get more creative and we need more teachers who have your enthusiasm and LIKE CHILDREN. Teachers who encourage creativity and problem solving and guide kids on how to learn and how to think critically, and ask of kids everything they’re capable of doing without burning them out by age 15 – my mom used to say that kids tend to live up to your best expectations and down to your worst, and I believe that.


  2. Stuart Nager
    Jun 02, 2012 @ 12:23:09

    Times have changed; tech gets in the way, and I understand and agree with many of your points.

    One main thing you mention: PARENTS need to be able to parent, not just house their kids. Fencing and all those things that a private school kid gets? Yup… we really need to work with models that WORK, not putting bandaids on a system that does not.


  3. Holly Jahangiri
    Jun 02, 2012 @ 12:52:48

    My son’s not in private school. If it’s a choice between public school and parental guidance/enrichment while I still can, and being able to help out with skyrocketing college tuition so my kids don’t have to start their independent lives deeply in debt, guess which one I choose? And both parents work – both of my kids went to daycare part of the time, and were supervised by their grandfather, who lived with us, when they got old enough to need LESS supervision. So here’s the deal – I want a better education and school environment for my son. I’m doing my part (not perfectly, mind you – but I’m neither a slacker mom nor a helicopter parent) – so don’t penalize my kids and me by extending “jail time.” If you can make learning the kind of motivational, fun, wonderful thing it SHOULD be? Great – I’m ALL for that. But “No Child Left Behind” is working SO well for us, already, here in Texas… ::rolling eyes:: Teaching to the tests? More arbitrary metrics? More minimum requirements for all? Naaah. I’ll pass on that. I’d be all for investing more into enticing good people into the teaching field, paying them better, and letting them do their jobs with a minimum of bureaucratic BS. I’m not even sure how to accomplish THAT one.


  4. marie leslie
    Jun 03, 2012 @ 07:06:49

    I definitely have to disagree with this. Classroom education is NOT the number one priority. It’s important. We focus on it a lot. My children have ample educational opportunities in their seven-hour school day, plus extra-curricular activities and homework. What they don’t get enough of is family time. The only thing a longer school day and longer school year will do is reduce child-care costs and take away valuable and precious family time.

    All education does NOT take place in a classroom. Years ago, the school district I lived in tried to lengthen the school day and the school year. I opposed it then (successfully, by the way) and I would oppose it now. We need time as families. We need time to build the strong family bonds that will create a strong society. All the classroom time in the world won’t make that happen. There are things I can teach my child that no teacher can ever adequately teach–and no teacher should. Children also need the opportunity to be children. They need to experience life. They need time to ride bicycles, to run, play and explore their world in unstructured ways, making amazing and critical discoveries that will help them develop creativity, ingenuity and imagination. They need to be able to learn about nature, art, music and the sciences by experiencing them. They need to learn to love the written word by being able to visit the public library or bookstore with their parents and choosing what they love, not because it’s an assignment. The schools have my children for more than enough hours. Perhaps if schools went back to focusing on actual education and not on artificial standards, pointless testing, and feel-good programs of no substance that focus on mediocrity instead of excellence we wouldn’t even need to have this discussion.

    Our country’s educational system is focusing on the wrong things. It is a broken system. Throwing more money at it won’t solve the problem. Punishing students and families with longer school days won’t solve the problem. What will solve the problem is re-examining exactly what the function of the public school system should be and getting back to the business of education.


  5. Allan Douglas
    Jun 03, 2012 @ 13:14:42

    I cannot speak to the needs of the modern class room as I do not have kids in school and am no longer a teacher myself. I am, however, friends with two teachers who decided to retire primarily because they were spending far too much time filing out reports and justifying their existence as a teacher that should have been spent in class with the kids. Add to this the constantly shrinking budgets (they both have invested quite a bit in out-of-pocket expenses toward supplies for their classrooms) and the prevailing shift in ideology concerning who it is that is supposed to be raising our society’s children. Both retired from public school. One is now teaching privately, the other just spends more time with her grandbabies.

    My state (TN) is looking at going to a year-round school curriculum, and it has sparked a storm opposing views. As you point out, we seem to be glomming band-aids onto a system that is bleeding to death. Personally I think the first step to fixing the problem is to get the Federal Government out of it altogether. A one-size-fits-all approach is not working. Just my opinion.


  6. MuMuGB
    Jun 11, 2012 @ 12:27:06

    Well, this side of the pond (I live in London, UK), parents work longer hours and the schools barely open at 9.00 and the kids are finished by 3.15pm (primary schools). If you work it is simply not possible, because unless you work very close to the school you can’t be on time at the office, and 3.15pm is far too early.
    This means that some families have to hire a couple of nannies (one to bring the kids to school, one to pick them up) if both parents work. Schools should be open for longer during the day. To learn, of course, but also to play.
    Being a parents is difficult enough. Having a little bit of flexibility with hours would really help a lot.


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