A longer school day and year? (1 Viewer)

BullDawg

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The president sees a need for longer school days and years. Personally speaking, I don't see how comparing our school regiment to that of Asian countries to be an honest comparison without taking into consideration the cultural aspects and "free time" activities of most Asian students.

For example, in S. Korea children are ranked throughout their school years. You are #1 in the class down to the last ranked child. I'm not sure how our culture would accept that level of competition among our children. As a result, most of these children go to private tutoring classes every night, meaning they are basically in "school" till late into the evening. The pressure to perform is extremely high.

Another aspect of our education system will also come into play here and that is teacher's pay. As it stands now, most educators feel they are vastly underpaid. Extending school hours and days will increase this perception. So any attempt to increase hours will HAVE to be met with increased pay or you'll end up with even less qualified teachers.

Just some thoughts to get the discussion started.
 

bleedblk&gld

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The president sees a need for longer school days and years. Personally speaking, I don't see how comparing our school regiment to that of Asian countries to be an honest comparison without taking into consideration the cultural aspects and "free time" activities of most Asian students.

For example, in S. Korea children are ranked throughout their school years. You are #1 in the class down to the last ranked child. I'm not sure how our culture would accept that level of competition among our children. As a result, most of these children go to private tutoring classes every night, meaning they are basically in "school" till late into the evening. The pressure to perform is extremely high.

Another aspect of our education system will also come into play here and that is teacher's pay. As it stands now, most educators feel they are vastly underpaid. Extending school hours and days will increase this perception. So any attempt to increase hours will HAVE to be met with increased pay or you'll end up with even less qualified teachers.

Just some thoughts to get the discussion started.

I think paying attention to what we are teaching is more important.
 

KardiacKat

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I agree with Razor.

Hehe...me too.


Several years ago they modified the school year in Alabama to have a shorter summer and a couple week-long breaks, plus Christmas break, during the year. It didn't add more school days. I like this move for a number of reasons. The shorter summer allows them to get back into learning faster, while the breaks give them time to breathe. I think it also benefits the family in terms of child care, planning family trips, etc. I am not opposed to any plan that is supported by good evidence it will be beneficial, but I think adding more school days to the calendar is probably better than a longer school day.
 
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BullDawg

BullDawg

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Hehe...me too.


Several years ago they modified the school year in Alabama to have a shorter summer and a couple week-long breaks, plus Christmas break, during the year. It didn't add more school days. I like this move for a number of reasons. The shorter summer allows them to get back into learning faster, while the breaks give them time to breathe. I think it also benefits the family in terms of child care, planning family trips, etc. I am not opposed to any plan that is supported by good evidence it will be beneficial, but I think adding more school days to the calendar is probably better than a longer school day.
Speaking as a parent of children in the Alabama school system, I absolutely abhor any increase in the school year. That's simply more opportunity for the school to nickel and dime me to death with "voluntary" fundraisers and "donations". The strong-arm tactics being used now should qualify the schools for RICO investigations.

/rantoff
 

Squeezebox

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We need to drastically rethink our education system. Our system is based on 19th century educational thinking and it's really hurting our children.

More damning is the current inability of school systems to educate those who are underprivileged. More and more, it's becoming apparent that the reason isn't necessarily because the underprivileged go to schools that are that much worse; rather, schools in general are failing our children and, predictably, children from educated families will end up "educated" no matter which school they go to.

Moreover, the time where lower income kids really fall behind in terms of education is not during the school year but during the summer. This is because lower income children tend to have a very non-stimulating environment. Remember, education isn't about improving one's knowledge, but about improving one's ability and capacity for learning. We are learning more and more that "round-the-clock" stimulation is crucial for a child's early cognitive development. If Kid A spends his summers at Science Camp, Band, etc... and Kid B spends his summers watching TV and playing Nintendo inside because both his parents work all day and cannot afford to send him anywhere, then Kid A is going to develop much more than Kid B, regardless of the quality of the education he gets when he actually does go to school.

So knowing this, it makes a lot of sense IMO to change the structure of school so that kids aren't languishing at home for 3-4 months every year.


That said, I also do not believe the answer is simply "more school." Rather, the "more involved school" should encompass a much more dynamic element of learning: tutoring, homework help, social time, foreign language, Praising Obama, etc... with varying degrees of stress.


I don't want to follow the Asian model of education where it's highly competetive and standardized; but I do believe that our model is antiquated and probably one of the worst in the Western World.

I also believe that whatever changes will happen will probably be made by those who have no business making education policy. Ah well.
 

iron error

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How about having a votech arm to secondary education? Meanwhile step up the non-votech academic side in intensity. I feel like we are just taking the middle road to handle the theoretical average student. This hurts everybody. There are kids that want to learn higher-end job skills, every economy needs that. These could be high-tech job skills, or even middle-tech job skills, even say nursing skills.

Right now, kids graduate high school in America and most are not ready to do anything. Thats where the failure is IMO.

Further, the failure continues, as we are convinced you have to go to college to be successful, and so we end up with kids 4 to 6 years later, not ready to do anything, completely in-debt, and owning a liberal arts degree so they can work at the mall, or do glorified clerical work somewhere.

I actually think, for the most part, elementary education here has gotten better, but the somewhere right around the end of middle-school we lose sight of what we are educating kids for.
 

guidomerkinsrules

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That said, I also do not believe the answer is simply "more school." Rather, the "more involved school" should encompass a much more dynamic element of learning: tutoring, homework help, social time, foreign language, Praising Obama, etc... with varying degrees of stress.

well put and to this i would add more physical activity and more creative (artistic) expression

and here is the other question i've been wrestling with (as an educator and now a father) - what "incentive" do kids in troubled communities/poor performing schools have to "do well" - good grades seem to mean absolutely nothing -- most class time seems spent on behavior more than instruction to the point that bad behavior gets reinforced b/c that's what gets attention
-- so the question, how do we convince kids that their classwork actually matters?
 

dtc

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Speaking as a parent of children in the Alabama school system, I absolutely abhor any increase in the school year. That's simply more opportunity for the school to nickel and dime me to death with "voluntary" fundraisers and "donations". The strong-arm tactics being used now should qualify the schools for RICO investigations.

/rantoff

Exactly. Half days, teacher days, extended school years and the like all stink. Labor Day to Memorial Day is the way I want it. No half days, no planning days. Teach the kids while they're there and quit expanding and manipulating the school year. It's gotten to where summer is only 7 weeks and that really stinks for vacations, summer jobs, etc.
 

obwhiteo

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Do i get paid more as a teacher to work longer hours and more days per year? If not, this is a horrible idea!! :hihi:
 

Oye

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but the somewhere right around the end of middle-school we lose sight of what we are educating kids for.

I ask this question sincerely - what do you think we are educating kids for? I've seen lots of different answers - to prepare them to get a job, give them a well-rounded education, make them independent and capable and critical thinkers, to achieve a certain score on a standardized test, to prepare them for university, etc...

I think there are a lot of people who have different definitions about what we are educating kids for - so I'm curious what your answer would be. Assuming I know what someone means when they say that is something I long ago learned not to take for granted.

what "incentive" do kids in troubled communities/poor performing schools have to "do well" - good grades seem to mean absolutely nothing

if you're interested in this issue, I would suggest checking out Jay Macleod's Ain't No Makin It: Achievement and Attainment in a Low-Income Neighborhood. In there, he works with two different groups from the projects, the Hallway Hangers (mostly white dudes) and the Brothers (mostly black guys) and their involvement in school. And it illustrates some reasons why academic achievement is a mostly illusory promise for a lot of these kids.

There has to be something else - I totally agree. What is that? That's beyond me to answer. But I think you might find the read worthwhile.

.......

I don't want to follow the Asian model of education where it's highly competetive and standardized; but I do believe that our model is antiquated and probably one of the worst in the Western World.

I also believe that whatever changes will happen will probably be made by those who have no business making education policy. Ah well.

a general :plus-un2: to this entire post. But I leave these last two comments because I wanted to say a couple of things about them.

For the first, not many people are looking to the Asian model today for education. In fact, many Asian countries are looking westward for educational influence. Japan has recognized that the pressure of their system has some unsavory byproducts, such as suicide rates and mental problems when students get older. Many parts of China are extremely interested in the postmodernist challenges to the dominance of modernism and positivist educational trends/tendencies. At my institute, there are a number of exchange students from Asian nations sent here to learn more about the ideas of Western curriculum - one of my closest colleagues the first couple of years was on just such work from Singapore.

So pointing to Asia as an example as a curriculum model is not really wise to me.

Can we learn things from them? Certainly - but to suggest such changes to the school year based on this information? Absolutely not.

To the second point, it's frustratingly accurate. The people making the decisions regarding curriculum and policy rarely are experts in the field and haven't solicited information from experts in the field. It's discouraging how closed to solicitation these policymakers are - on all levels - from local to state to federal.

Now, for the general idea about the school year.

I disagree strongly with Obama's plans and his rationale.

Much of their information is predicated on math scores - we are still stuck in the 1950s with this kneejerk reaction to the Russian launch of Sputnik. I know this are well-traveled thoughts for me on these boards. So I'll keep this short - sufficed to say, we can't stop thinking of educational success in terms of math scores specifically and standardized test scores generally. School is - to me - more than a math score. To dictate policy based on that is myopic.

Also, pointing to charter schools is misleading. Charter schools get a lot of positive play in the media, but practically speaking they are not successful on a broad scale. There is no universal "charter school" and some of them are not schools I would ever send my child too. Now, you could make the same argument for public schools, certainly. But the standards and practices as well as teacher certification and school codes will vary widely. They can be successful - yes. But the successful ones are right time/right place examples. Additionally, the profiteering that happens in a lot of charter schools bothers me - some in the New Orleans area for example - and are not nearly as successful as advertised. It makes for a nice soundbite to contradict public schooling but they aren't universally effective at all. The lack of accountability at some of these sites bother me.

This notion that students learn more while in school is also wrong. Most of the learning and development for children doesn't occur in a traditional classroom while studends are engaged in traditional seatwork. Cognitive development happens outside of "class" more than inside of class. They take the information they learned in class and use that to make connections in their own lives, outside of class. At home. With friends. Participating in society. To think that a kid who spend more time in school will learn more is educationally immature.

A couple of points from here compared to back home:

First, the school day here is shorter. I'll use the high school schedule because it's what I'm most familiar with. Back in Texas, kids attended 7 classes a day, for 50 minutes each. The first bell rang at 7:20 in the morning. And kids weren't dismissed until 2:45. They had a 25 minute lunch. So we're talking about 7 hours of class.

Here, the secondary schools in the Niagara region begin their day at 8:45 and are done just after 3:00. They have 4 school periods per day, 75 minutes each. Their lunch is one hour in length - off campus for most of the schools. So that's a total of 5 hours of "seat time" per day.

Their school year is 188 days vs. 180 back home.

And yet, the students here score better on most meaningful measurements of academic success. Of course, as I said above, standardized tests are of limited use and true comparisons are hard to draw. But mean IQs are higher here, with an increasing number of students crossing the border for education (both ways) the Canadian students perform better, and global comparative curricularists assess Canada higher than the US.

Now for a point about the elementary schools.

Kids up here - generally speaking - play more. My wife, when she taught back in Texas, had one single recess for her students - it was 15-20 minutes in length.

Here, kids have 3 recesses - morning recess, lunch recess, and afternoon recess. The shortest recess is 15 mins, the next is 20 mins, and the lunch recess is usually 30 or more minutes depending on how lunch goes.

Her first graders here also do less "worksheet" work than back in Texas. The curriculum is demanding but also more flexible in a lot of ways.

And she feels the kids here have much more time in class to do things more creatively because there's less pressure to prepare them for tests. The curriculum is also more diverse, including units of study that are more interesting than the ones back home as well as more latitude for creative and imaginative work.

So - a longer day is not something I would endorse. Not at all. I don't see any reason - in my experience or my research - that says extending the day is a good idea.

The primary problems with our educational system are not going to be fixed by lengthening the school day. They just aren't. They aren't related to the school day.

Does the school day get better resources to poorer schools? Does it get better teachers in underachieving schools? Does it open up the curriculum? Does it loosen the strictures of the standardized test? Does it challenge the profiteering that happens at our schools? Does it diversify a curriculum to include more tradeskills and alternative career path options? Does it etc...

It's a bureaucratic red herring.

I do support, however, a change to the school year. And I am in the minority among my colleagues. But I do think that the school year should change - I don't think we need more days. But I think that the school year should be stretched to encompass more of the year. The 9 months on/3 months off just doesn't work for me. At least not as well as other calendars I've seen implemented.

And I became a teacher to help kids - not to get 2 months off (which is what it amounts to, really). So I've never really cared for the argument that it interferes with vacation.

I believe kids need time off from school.

But I also think that time off is better spent and better for the student when the breaks are shorter and more frequent over the course of the year.

There's actually more I would like to say here - but the topics just keep snowballing for me. One issue leads to another.

Which is exactly why I think Obama is misguided thinking a longer day and/or year is going to fix so many ills at the same time.
 
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LSSpam

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I'm not sure how spending more time would help since the current quality of time spent is so poor.

I mean I suppose I could spend more time at the gym by chilling in the lounge area and reading magazines, but I'm not really accomplishing anything.
 

ColGorgeSaint

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It does not matter what you do with the school day or the school year when so many of our students do not value education, do not understand the importance of hard work, do not respect authority, and have an "I want it now mentality." Then you have your parents who take adversarial rather than collaborative positions with schools, where a call from the school seems to be treated much like a call from a bill collector. Not to exclude parents who love to flash the word "lawyer" around. Finally, an overall apathy displayed by so many parents toward their child's education is more problematic for teachers and school administrators than anyone not directly involved with the day-to-day happenings in America's classrooms can ever understand.
 

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It does not matter what you do with the school day or the school year when so many of our students do not value education, do not understand the importance of hard work, do not respect authority, and have an "I want it now mentality." Then you have your parents who take adversarial rather than collaborative positions with schools, where a call from the school seems to be treated much like a call from a bill collector. Not to exclude parents who love to flash the word "lawyer" around. Finally, an overall apathy displayed by so many parents toward their child's education is more problematic for teachers and school administrators than anyone not directly involved with the day-to-day happenings in America's classrooms can ever understand.

Definitely! You forgot to mention that all the kids want to be the next "rap star" or "basketball player!" They spend all their money on $500 shoes while their momma's Baby Daddy's drive them to school in Cadillacs!!!!
 

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A lot of changes and improvements can be made in the efficiancy of instruction in the class. More focused and rigor in what is being taught. It is coming down to sheer talent of teacher in my area. You are seeming by looking at the numbers the good teachers and the average. However, my school and myself are at a point where some of the issues of student self control and such are seriously getting in the way of learning. I can go along with stretching out the year, but adding more time to it I dont agree with.
 

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Most people think repairing the US School system is somewhat akin to a Odyssean-like ordeal. But the big problem is that our school system is very de-centralized. Their is no strong Federal bureau up in Washington DC dictating the core curriculum classes, textbooks, and so on. In many ways, it's trickled down rather then having that strong bureaucratic authority to make it more effective.

Take the French for example. Napoleon made a conscious effort after his grab for power was completed in 1804 to do away with the ineffective educational system that had existed in pre-1789 France. He set up a strong centralized educational system in Paris that over time grew to be one of the best in the Western World, followed later on by Germany in the late 19th century. These two countries had the foresight to go with a strong but effective educational system because they knew the long term effects would be much more positive then negative. And they proven right.

It's Quality Education that really makes an impact on students. That can come with endless amounts of different interpretations, but extending the school year probably means students will find school even boring, and let's face it their teachers feel it along with them. It's like making an shrewd investment, you have to have foresight to know you're making a informed decision on the deal itself and modifying it if any problems come up. Otherwise it'll blow up in your face and you're scrambling to find a way to cut your losses.

In a sense, you could apply that same concept to any educational system, except the investment is far bigger and crucial then just a business deal. This is our future we're trying to reach here. The stakes are off the charts.
 

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