Education Blog

Back to School! Should We Ever Have Left?

by Trevor Waddington, Founder, DCschoolHUB

Get your pitchforks, teachers!

Bash me on Twitter and Instagram, >= preteens.  #WhoIsThisClown?

I’ll just get to the point: students and teachers do not need 12 weeks off in the summer.  There I said it.  Before I get to what will be an unhappy compromise, a bit of history.  The popular myth is kids had the summer off to help their parents tend to the farm.  False!  It was actually a combination of widely debated issues.  For one, it’s hot during the summer in most parts of the US and air conditioning wasn’t invented until 1902 and wasn’t widely used until the 1930’s.  Also, school was not compulsory, so urban families went on vacation during the summer months to escape the sweltering concrete jungles leaving classes very empty.  Some doctors felt the overuse of the brain for young people was very damaging.  We can now look past those problems.  So why does it remain the same?  One of the biggest reasons “Summer Break” has remained the same is, you guessed it, money!  Travel and tourism in the US is a multi-billion dollar industry.

Back in the day it was easier to corral the kids in the summer.  Most typically mom stayed home year round.  That trend has steadily gone down since the 1950’s…(side note, it’s actually increased over the past 15 years, but it is nowhere near what it was in the 50’s and 60’s).  With so many duel income families and single-parent households what do you do with your kids in June, July, and August?  Summer camp of course, another huge industry in suburban and urban America.  The problem is it’s not compulsory.  For many kids today summer means mastering Minecraft or Instagramming as many selfies as possible.  At the same time kids need to be kids, learn from one another, and interact in less structured settings.  It is my opinion that every kid by early August should have a skinned knee, scabby elbow, and a tanned neck.  Summer was my favorite time of year because of all the activities we did growing up: stick ball, going to the pool, going to the park, fishing…the only time you came home was for lunch and when the street lights came on.

All that being said, a number of studies indicate that year-round school – with short breaks spread throughout the year instead of a long one in the summer – would help prevent summer learning loss in many students, according to Carl Azuz of CNN.com

You’re crazy, Trevor!  Maybe, but Canada doesn’t think so.  Starting in 2017 school will be year round, eh.  In fact, there are many education chart topping countries that have compulsory, year-round education including South Korea, Brazil, China, Australia, and Kenya to name a few.

Hey, hey, hey, I’m a former teacher turned administrators so I remember loving my summers off, so I’ve come up with a compromise of sorts:

  1. School is compulsory (sort of) year round starting in grade 4.
  2. School ends mid-June and starts back up the Monday following Independence Day.
  3. From the first Monday after July 4 – August 31 school is task-oriented and project-based. Every student is given a series of assignments that must be completed at school during regular school hours.
  4. “Specials” such as art, psychical education, music, etc. are incorporated into the assignments.
  5. Students may take additional vacation if the teacher deems they are on track to finish the assignments.
  6. Teacher salaries will increase proportionately to account for the additional time.

What would you add to this list?  Do you think it’s a crazy idea?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your email address will not be published.