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Education News

Do We Need a Longer School Year? 729

Posted by samzenpus
from the school's-out-for-the-summer dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Jennifer Davis writes that while summer holds a special place in our hearts: lazy afternoons, camping at the lake, warm evenings gazing at the moon, languid summers can be educationally detrimental, with most youth losing about two months of grade-level equivalency in math computational skills over the summer and students from low-income families falling even further behind. A consensus is building that the traditional nine-month school year might be a relic of the 20th century that has no place in an increasingly competitive global work force and an analysis of charter schools in New York reveals that students are most likely to outperform peers if they attend schools that are open at least 10 days more than the conventional year. What of the idea that summer should be a time of respite from the stresses of school? There are two wrong notions wrapped up in this perspective. The first is that somehow summer is automatically a magical time for children but as one fifth-grader, happy to be back at school in August, declared, 'Sometimes summer is really boring. We just sit there and watch TV.' The second mis-perception is that school is automatically bereft of the excitement and joy of learning. On the contrary, as the National Center on Time and Learning describes in its studies of schools that operate with significantly more time, educators use the longer days and years to enhance the content and methods of the classroom. 'We should expect our schools to furnish today's students with the education they will need to excel in our global society,' says Davis. 'But we must also be willing to provide schools the tools they need to ensure this outcome, including the flexibility to turn the lazy days of summer into the season of learning.'"
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Do We Need a Longer School Year?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 03, 2012 @05:02PM (#41216703)

    Rich kids with parents that care about their future attend schools that stay open longer. The kids care, and the parents care, so they outperform their inner-city peers.

    • by fiziko (97143) on Monday September 03, 2012 @05:11PM (#41216797) Homepage

      That absolutely is a factor, but this is far from the first research I've seen (as an educator myself) that indicates three weeks is the longest break the average student can take before skills start to regress. This is why some schools use the "happy medium" of year round schooling. The number of school days is the same as a ten month school year (standard here in Canada) but no break from school exceeds three weeks. Instead, there are more frequent and longer breaks during the school years. (Three weeks at winter, a week at Easter, four days off instead of three for most long weekends, etc.) Academic results are higher (on average), students usually like it once they've tried it because of the more frequent breaks, and working parents enjoy it more. The true test, however, needs to be comparing two otherwise comparable private schools. As you have correctly pointed out, any private system should be able to outperform the local public system on average because the parents who really don't care and produce students who don't respect the need for education send their kids to the public system.

      • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Monday September 03, 2012 @07:24PM (#41217899) Homepage

        http://johntaylorgatto.com/chapters/16a.htm [johntaylorgatto.com] "Before you can reach a point of effectiveness in defending your own children or your principles against the assault of blind social machinery, you have to stop conspiring against yourself by attempting to negotiate with a set of abstract principles and rules which, by its nature, cannot respond. Under all its disguises, that is what institutional schooling is, an abstraction which has escaped its handlers. Nobody can reform it. First you have to realize that human values are the stuff of madness to a system; in systems-logic the schools we have are already the schools the system needs; the only way they could be much improved is to have kids eat, sleep, live, and die there."

        Thus, this initiative. At least Canadian doctors realize a bit more the importance of vitamin D deficiency; keeping kids indoors even more during the summer is going to be terrible for their physical heath. Education serves multiple purposes -- to help an individual grow in human potential, to help someone become an informed citizen of good civic judgment, and also to learn some practical skills. School unfortunately focuses mostly on the last, and mainly in the context of shaping children to fit the needs of 19th century factories which mostly no longer exist. The most important "skill" is to be able to learn from real need and curiosity, and unfortunately that is stomped out of most children very early on because it would be too inconvenient for the school curriculum. Thus we then have the pathetic statements of kids in college saying they finally "learned how to learn", never remembering they were a "scientist in the crib". Keeping kids in school more will only mean even less of that most important "skill" will survive. See also:
        "In Defense Of Childhood: Protecting Kids'' Inner Wildness"
        http://www.chrismercogliano.com/childhood.htm [chrismercogliano.com]
        "As codirector of the Albany Free School, Chris Mercogliano has had remarkable success in helping a diverse population of youngsters find their way in the world. He regrets, however, that most kids' lives are subject to some form of control from dawn until dusk. Lamenting risk-averse parents, overstructured school days, and a lack of playtime and solitude, Mercogliano argues that we are robbing our young people of "that precious, irreplaceable period in their lives that nature has set aside for exploration and innocent discovery," leaving them ill-equipped to face adulthood. The "domestication of childhood" squeezes the adventure out of kids' lives and threatens to smother the spark that animates each child with talents, dreams, and inclinations. As Mercogliano explains, however, there is plenty that those involved with children can do to protect their spontaneity and exuberance. We can address their desperate thirst for knowledge, give them space to learn from their mistakes, and let them explore what their place in the adult world might be."

        Public schools as we know them are going the way of the Dodo bird. Khan Academy is just one example of "learning on demand" as a larger trend I wrote about five years ago:
        http://patapata.sourceforge.net/WhyEducationalTechnologyHasFailedSchools.html [sourceforge.net]

        Pushes like these are just one last gasp of a dying system. Jerry Mintz talks about that here:
        http://www.educationrevolution.org/blog/sustainable-education/ [educationrevolution.org]

        If we are to continue to have public schools, they should become a lot more like public libraries -- but at John Taylor Gatto points out, "public" means something very different in those two terms. See also:
        http://www.newciv.org/whole/schoolteacher.txt [newciv.org]
        "Look again at the seven lessons of schoolteaching: confusion, class assignment, dulled respon

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 03, 2012 @07:30PM (#41217955)

        Cambridge and Oxford may not be entirely typical, but they only have 20 weeks/academic year of lectures. Yet they don't seem to have trouble teaching people things.

        The problem, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, nor in our school years, but in ourselves.

        In order to make kids do well, live long, and prosper, you only need one principle: Ensure they are better off if they work hard and succeed than they will be if they don't and fail. We use the principle in football and basketball, and have lots of good football and basketball players. We use the principle in teaching performance music, and we have lots of good performers.

        It's mainly in things like mathematics where - on the average - we just don't seem to care. The Chinese use the principle in everything, and that's why they increasingly run circles around us.

      • by cfulmer (3166) on Monday September 03, 2012 @09:25PM (#41218805) Homepage Journal
        Eh.... The school system in Wake County, NC (the 12th largest in the US) has a number of year-round schools and the results are not as positive as you're painting them. For one thing, the on-again, off-again nature of the year-round system makes finding childcare harder. Secondly, we haven't seen the academic benefits that were supposed to happen. And, thirdly, the country is organized around the traditional school calendar -- want to send your kid to a 4-week summer camp? If you're on a year-round schedule, you can't do it.
      • by fearofcarpet (654438) on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @01:15AM (#41219967)

        My parents were divorced and I came from a family of blue-collar workers and immigrant farmers. I hope that you are not suggesting that they sent me to public school because they didn't care or respect the need for education. My mom held down a job while attending night school and still managed to get me to school on time with my homework done. In the US, in the 80's and early 90's, our school years were constantly shortened to deal with budget cuts. It had nothing at all to do with the quality of education, it was all about screwing over poor kids and the "if you're poor it's because you didn't work hard enough" philosophy that Reagan popularized.

        Theoretically all my "wasted" summer months were a big drag on my education, but I contend that the measure of the performance of a kid with respect to schooling is not a measure of future success, nor is it the most important aspect of a child's life. Summer Break offers opportunities to learn other useful life skills. When I was very young, I would spend Summer with my grandparents, who lived in another state (and who weren't poor). They sent me to a great summer camp, where I made friends, performed in skits, played field hockey, swam, etc. One summer I even went to baseball camp. Once I was 12 or so, I would work (under the table) all Summer and when I turned 14, I started working real jobs, with a paycheck. I'm sure I forgot a few proofs from Geometry or some SI units, but I learned so many other skills that are important to success (not the least of which is how much minimum wage sucks).

        After many years of state college, I wound up studying at an ivy league university, surrounded by upper-class kids from private schools. Their teachers had PhDs and their schools boasted all kinds of fancy education models. They had all been pushed by their well-educated parents to succeed right from the womb. Many of them actually knew each other from way-back, because they had competed at the same "science competitions" (I still don't know what those are). None of them had jobs--instead they volunteered at soup kitchens, or whatever, because that is the sort of thing fancy-pants universities like on applications. All of them had better educations that I, and all of them retained far more of it. They could talk about literature and sound generally smart and educated. But they were also high-strung and sheltered. Not one of them had ever done a day of real manual labor. Their definition of "hard work" was wildly different from mine and they all expected "hard work" to translate into success automatically. I prefer my rich patchwork of life experience and realistic expectations to their sterile bubble of self-indulgence and I credit my long, budget-induced summers with much of what makes me unique.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        OK, so explain something to me. When I was a kid, school started in late September and let out in early May. Now, they start in mid-August and don't let out until June. Yet my generation knows the difference between their and there, and knows when and when not to use an apostrophe, can do arithmetic without a calculator, etc.

        If the longer school year is so beneficial why are the twentysomethings so ignorant?

    • by cappp (1822388) on Monday September 03, 2012 @05:13PM (#41216815)
      The articles themselves pretty much cede that point.

      During the school year, disadvantaged children manage to catch up somewhat to more advantaged students. But during the summer, they lose those gains while their more advantaged peers -- whose parents can afford to arrange for summer enriching activities -- maintain theirs.

      Moreover, they note that the issue is more complicated than just throwing a couple of extra days into the mix.

      We should note, however, that a long school year tends to go part and parcel with several other policies, such as a longer school day and Saturday school, and this should make us cautious about assigning too much importance to a longer school year in and of itself. A more conservative conclusion would be to think of the package of the three policies having a positive association with student achievement.

    • by MF4218 (1320441) on Monday September 03, 2012 @06:02PM (#41217229)

      In my country the expensive schools have shorter terms and achieve better academic results. I don't think it's a simple case of how much time you spend, but how you spend it.

    • by Nursie (632944) on Monday September 03, 2012 @06:15PM (#41217327)

      Yet in other countries (UK for instance) the better off folk send their kids to private schools that have longer holidays, and still achieve brilliant results.

      You're right (IMHO) that the kids and parents caring is a big factor. I'm not convinced taking away the summers of youth is a good idea though.

  • Summers off? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 03, 2012 @05:03PM (#41216717)

    Schools were out during the summer so that children could work in the fields. How relevant is this now?

    [Aside: my high-school started a full week later than ever other school in the district, because we ere rural, and we actually did work the harvest.]

    • Re:Summers off? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by frisket (149522) <.ei.liramlis. .ta. .retep.> on Monday September 03, 2012 @05:11PM (#41216801) Homepage

      Schools were out during the summer so that children could work in the fields. How relevant is this now?

      For some people here in rural agricultural Ireland, very. Ditto elsewhere in the countryside. But that's maybe 5-10% of the population. If school isn't going to be a year-round thing, then cut some of the summer holiday and add it to the other breaks. Or make the timings entirely local, as you described.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by guttentag (313541)
        There are very good "economic" reasons for a small percentage of the population, but for the entire population there are very good "experiential" reasons for summer vacation. The new places you go, people you meet, the experiences you have an the things you learn from all that are invaluable, whether the kids are working, at a summer camp, on a family vacation or cruising the neighborhood on their bikes. You have to show kids that there is more to life than the scripted environment in the same old classroom
    • Re:Summers off? (Score:4, Informative)

      by mister_playboy (1474163) on Monday September 03, 2012 @05:16PM (#41216845)

      I'm glad I got summers off... neither my elementary nor my high school had AC. (Both do have it now however)

    • Re:Summers off? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki.gmail@com> on Monday September 03, 2012 @05:43PM (#41217053) Homepage

      Schools were out during the summer so that children could work in the fields. How relevant is this now?

      I don't know about where you live, but in my neck of the woods(Ontario), kids still work in the fields here. In fact, kids will still be working in the fields here until about the end of September and sometimes right up until mid-October. The provincial government doesn't like it, not a single bit, they've tried reallllly hard to piss all over farmers who have kids who do this. In most cases, the answer of parents have been to homeschool. It's gotten exceptionally bad in the last 6 years since the Liberals(left) have come to power over it, and they keep sloshing around the "try to ban kids from working on the farm" it keeps getting knocked down by the PC's(Conservatives who are right of centre) and NDP(far left).

      Though I shouldn't be surprised at this response from the odd ball American. Especially since Obama dept. of agriculturehad tried to ban kids from working on the farm, and driving farm machinery.

    • by epyT-R (613989)

      Fine.. fix the QUALITY of the education first.. When that's done, we can talk about whether increasing the school year is worth it.

      • by Belial6 (794905)
        Exactly. We home school our son, and in 1 to 2 hours a day, he vastly outpaces the kids that should be his peers in public school. The answer to a crappy education isn't to have even more crappy education. The move for more school days likely has more to do with parents wanting more free daycare while the school system employees see it as expanding their industry.
  • by ArhcAngel (247594) on Monday September 03, 2012 @05:04PM (#41216725)
    The school year should be 23 months with a month off to scrape all the gum off the underside of the desks.
  • Two weeks (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 03, 2012 @05:06PM (#41216743)
    Kids should get two weeks off per year and it should be treated like holiday or personal time where each student can choose how to split up their time and when to use it. It keeps them learning, it keeps them out of trouble and it's reflective of what they will have to deal with in the real world.
  • by cloricus (691063) on Monday September 03, 2012 @05:07PM (#41216753)

    Take off the rose colored glasses. Learning constantly for 12 years is hard. Meaningful breaks are very important to avoid burnout and keep morale up. If people want to look at schooling maybe we should reconsider how the school time is allocated but lets not do it from the perspective of 'lazy students, they need to do more'.

    • I think we should be taking a much deeper look at how education itself is dispensed. In this information age, we should very easily be able to provide the brighter students with all of the tools they need to advance at their own pace, and rewards to encourage this behaviour, while ensuring that other students get a solid standard education. Its a truism to say that learning is entirely, in the end, up to the student, emphasising this by reforming the educational model could do a lot of good.

      Ebook readers, t

    • by Hadlock (143607)

      Alternately, most people are going to end up as wage slaves for the rest of their lives, and just as many may be working too hard building a carrer to take a sizeable vacation until they're 30. Most of them will be lucky to take two full, consecutive weeks off in a row each decade for the remainder of their lives once they graduate from high school (or college, if they're lucky). A couple months of unemployment was a blissfully happy time for me. Three months a year of actual living before taking responsibi

    • by CubicleZombie (2590497) on Monday September 03, 2012 @05:46PM (#41217075)

      Learning constantly for 12 years is hard.

      This.

      My son has his whole life ahead of him to have his soul crushed in a cubicle. He has only one chance to be a kid.

      "We just sit there and watch TV"
      That's the parent's fault, not the school system.

      • Yeah, that's what schools sometimes are, and the slant of the whole article, while not quite flamebait, is going for the whole "in today's competitive world" meme, clearly with an agenda that the writer will probably benefit from.

        This is Slashdot, and I'm hearing the choice come down to "To watch TV while bored or work harder not smarter?!". Is no one using their summer to learn some computing, or form a band, or dig around uncle Joe's beat up old Datsun, or build some Hardware Hack?

        Elsewhere on other days

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      Learning constantly for 12 years is hard.

      It is HARD. But 9 months on, almost 3 months off is stupid. It's an excercise in extremes. I envied my cousins in Germany growing up. Instead of being bored out of their brains for 3 months in the summer, they got a more moderate 6 weeks off, and then a more healthy 2-3 weeks at Christmas, and 2-3 weeks at Easter. It kinda mirrored what their parents got. Instead of Stateside, where we're all taught to be good little factory workers. Even the summers were orig

  • meh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vux984 (928602) on Monday September 03, 2012 @05:07PM (#41216755)

    my kids are in a semester system. one month at christmas off, one at spring break, one in summer... same number of days as the "traditional method" without the big gap in summer. works just fine imo.

  • summer holds a special place in our hearts:blistering afternoons, camping in front of the TV, sweltering evenings gazing at the calendar

    ... waiting for October to finally arrive and bring with it daytime temperatures below 40C and the hope that before long (November, perhaps) we can actually go outdoors in something other than a mad dash to reach air conditioning again. Then, before we knew it, April arrived and it was back into our shelters.

  • Instead of one huge chunk of time, break up the year a bit more with a few weeks in mid-term. They can still have just as much time off, but not in one brain-draining slab. Also, I'm dubious about the "open 10 days more" claim - that study's looking at charter schools, and there are a whole slew more variables there that don't look like they're controlled for in this study. In fact, the study makes that same point:

    We should note, however, that a long school year tends to go part and parcel with several other policies, such as a longer school day and Saturday school, and this should make us cautious about assigning too much importance to a longer school year in and of itself.

  • by dskoll (99328) on Monday September 03, 2012 @05:09PM (#41216787)

    We don't need a longer school year. What we need is better holiday distribution. RIght now where I live (Ontario, Canada) our kids get two weeks off in December, one in March and about 9 in the summer.

    It would make more sense to have August, December and April off so there are three month-long breaks. That way, there's no long summer holiday during which kids can forget what they've learned. It also makes holiday planning a bit easier on parents; we don't have to cram everything into the summer.

    • You'd be surprised to find out how important the process of forgetting is to the human memory and learning, and how important it is to let the mind rest and process all the information digested at its own pace.

  • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Monday September 03, 2012 @05:15PM (#41216841)

    2 months off in one block is probably not so good. A month off in the summer, 3 weeks in the winter might work better (as in an extra week in the winter). And then another week to coincide with some major culture group's major holiday, or in the middle of each 'term'. Say a week off in october and a week off in march, with school running august to june.

    Teachers still need some vacation time, as do kids, and taking teachers out of the classroom for holidays is usually a disaster for the kids. Winter is probably a good time to have time off because kids pay relatively little attention when they have christmas coming/new toys anyway. Not to mention the problems with winter in general messing up schedules. Teachers also need prep time, so you can't really compact too much more and still leave them time for vacations + prep time+training etc.

    But sure, overall, kids would probably overall benefit from more time at school, having to reteach 2 months of work because kids were gone for 2 months isn't really doing you any favours. Especially if you could make up that difference by teaching for an extra 2 or 3 weeks.

    One of the universities I went to had a week long 'reading week' in each semester*, one in october, one in february, and the one in the summer was about mid july (the summer timing is a bit strange). The quality of work from those students was actually a lot better than were I am no, where they only get a break in the midst of february. The 4 months where most students aren't here doesn't do a lot of favours, but the one week break makes a huge difference to stress/sleep/quality of work, and I would suspect the same effect would apply to younger kids.

    Semesters are sept-dec, Jan - > April, may - > august.

  • I have 2 opinions that fall on both sides of this debate. Personally I do not see how they were not mentioned, as they are based completely in known facts.
    1) If school was really all that stressful, such that you need months of free time to recover your sanity and physiological strength, then we should not be forcing children to spend 8 months at a time there.

    2) You do want to create people who are able to function in society, you do not do so by locking them away from the world for the first 17 years of th

  • by jht (5006) on Monday September 03, 2012 @05:19PM (#41216875) Homepage Journal

    Our son is going into 5th grade. He's attending a public school that has a 190-day school year with an extended 8-3 day, and they go to school until late July, only getting 5-6 weeks of summer vacation. In compensation for the long July in school, they get a vacation week in late October and another one in the beginning of June that other kids don't get.

    For the most part, he loves it. And when he and his schoolmates get back to school, there seems to be less time getting kids back up to speed than there is at the conventional schools here in town. Overall results trend better here as well, and we've got a lot of overall issues in the system here outside of our school. Within reason, I think an extended day/extended year model is ideal for most learning situations, but not necessarily universal. I don't think school should be fully year-round, there should be some sort of summer break. But the 2+ month summer vacation is a relic of this country's agricultural roots, and it certainly could go away without causing a problem.

  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Monday September 03, 2012 @05:23PM (#41216909) Homepage

    The one missing part is the family of the kids. Families do things like take vacations or trips, or large projects around the home that need the kids to help with. Summer vacation isn't just a break from school for the kids, it's a large block of time where the family doesn't have to plan everything they do around the school schedule. It's when the family can take a week or two for a trip. It's when they can take a week or two to haul the furniture out of the house one room at a time to do a thorough cleaning and rearranging of everything.

    And frankly, competitive with the rest of the world? I deal with a lot of outsourced IT people daily, and it wouldn't take much to be competitive with them. Not just helpdesk types, software developers and the like too. I don't want the kind of educational system that makes you better at being like them. I want the kind of educational system that led to being able to "make this <holds up a square filter> fit in that <points to a round hole> using nothing but these <dumps out a random assortment of supplies>".

    • by Dr Fro (169927) on Monday September 03, 2012 @05:35PM (#41216995) Homepage

      The whole point of the education system is to make the square students fit into the round holes of standardized testing.

    • Not to mention summer jobs. This is only important from maybe 12-14 onward (I did stuff like mow lawns and do gardening for elderly neighbors when I was 12) but a summer job is a really important part of growing up and is at least as important in a teen's development as what they are doing in school.

  • by kimanaw (795600) on Monday September 03, 2012 @05:32PM (#41216967)
    If the current system is failing, why would we want to give kids even more of it ?

    Much learning occurs *outside* of classrooms. Learning to be a good person, how to camp, swim, fish, etc. and enjoy life.And how to work, btw. I'm not aware of any curriculum that includes those classes. Are we going to add them in those 3 more months of failed public schooling ?

    Our school system has many issues (starting w/ the NEA and - ironically - underpaid teachers). Turning it into a 12 year long death march isn't going to fix it. In the "land of the free", its important for kids to know what freedom is.

    • The problem isn't the teachers, or the administration, or the "system." It's the parents. YOU are the problem with the schools because you (and I mean the general "you," not necessarily you in particular) expect that the system will provide day care for your kids in the form of all the learning they can every need and you have no responsibility at all for helping, nurturing, teaching, and guiding them.

      Yes, there are poor, unmotivated teachers. There are lazy, useless programmers too. A good set of parents c

  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Monday September 03, 2012 @05:36PM (#41217007)

    I didn't know people did 9-month school anymore. All my nieces and nephews went to 12-month schools. All the school zone signs in the last two towns I've lived in have "12 Month" warnings. Are my observations a statistical fluke?

    At any rate, I think summers off are a good thing. IMO being a kid is an important part of becoming an adult. Let them have a break for all those dirt clod fights and stuff.

  • Terms and semesters (Score:4, Interesting)

    by warewolfsmith (196722) on Monday September 03, 2012 @05:38PM (#41217021)
    Terms and Semesters, works well in Australia.
  • no (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Monday September 03, 2012 @05:48PM (#41217103)
    Kids do 75% of their growing during 25% of the year: the summer when they actually get sleep mostly and also sufficient food whenever they want to eat it. So cut out a bit of the summer, and we're gonna have some short kids :-P Of course, several school districts in the US bumped start time up 1 hour to like 9:00 and behavioral problems basically disappeared, skipping school stopped, test scores went through the roof, and kids' opinions of school went up. Since kids aren't designed to get up that early, it's just because of their selfish, lazy, assholes parents that both work, maybe they should just implement that instead.
  • Who pays? (Score:4, Informative)

    by gmhowell (26755) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Monday September 03, 2012 @05:52PM (#41217153) Homepage Journal

    Who pays for the extra month(s) of school? Localities across the US are already strapped for cash. Increase teacher's salaries by 20% (ish) and things get worse. And when will they do their continuing ed to remain accredited or get higher degrees? Similar stories for custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, etc. In many (most?) school districts, only parts of the administration are 12 month employees. There's also an increase in electricity and possible retrofitting of AC in places that don't have it.

  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Monday September 03, 2012 @06:09PM (#41217289)
    for poor kids. For kids who's parents work all day and have no disposable income (not even enough for the bus). Summer's very different when you're middle class. The War on Summer is just another example of the middle class going away. Yes, I know very well the origins of Summer vacation (farm work). I also know the origins of the education system (training farmers to work in a factory).

    What I like best about this entire article is not one person asked why the hell we'd want to work that hard?
  • What's the point? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Velex (120469) on Monday September 03, 2012 @06:52PM (#41217607) Journal
    Why? What's the point? A few more days per year isn't going to overturn an entire culture that eschews things like math and proper writing skills as stuff for dorks who never get laid.
  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Monday September 03, 2012 @07:33PM (#41217977)

    Summertime adolescence was the time for heavy reading. "Patanjali's yoga sutras" and "Tantric Mysticism of Tibet". Scientific American magazine (Dad got me the special on microprocessors and here I am), Analog magazine,Greek philosophy (and eventually, geek philosophy). Admittedly, this was fluffed with about 1 science fiction paperpack every day or two, but these two had quite some educational value.

    Summertime childhood too, was full of books on dinosaurs and mythology. In addition, I got motor coordination and exercise better than gym class by wandering the mountains near home, swinging on grape vines (and falling), bicycling, hiking, and so on.

    So, I say, three cheers for summer vacation. It was fun, and educational. A child not motivated to intellectual exploration will avoid it, school or no. A curious intelligent child will seek education, whether school is involved or not.

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Monday September 03, 2012 @08:13PM (#41218277)
    All this is neither here nor there... the big problem is your kids in school and then he's not... and you have to find childcare. Not only that, but THE ENTIRE COUNTRY has a giant break from school at the same approximate time. So the price of childcare skyrockets during that break. Summer break is idiotic and should be done away with on that premise alone. If school is supposed to prepare you for the working world, why not give kids 3 to 6 weeks vacation time a year at let them use it as they see fit just like their parents? A kid that's doing better in school could earn more, just like a real job. Oh wait... the teachers union controls our schools, so we can't ever makes changes. I forgot. My bad.
  • by Caspian (99221) on Monday September 03, 2012 @09:08PM (#41218681)

    No time off from mindless busywork which doesn't, by any stretch of the imagination, prepare anyone for the real world.

    No time off from senselessly time-consuming homework. (Why is it that students are given homework anyways? In the real world, your boss doesn't generally give you 'homework'; you work your 8 hours and you're DONE FOR THE DAY.)

    No time off from cruel and sadistic bullies.

    No time off from incompetent and disinterested teachers.

    No time off from the mind-numbingly uncaring bureaucracy of the school administration.

    No time off from waking up before dawn to trundle out to the school bus, alone and half-awake.

    I'm 33 years old, and I look back at my school years as some of the worst times of my life. The suggestion of eliminating the summer respite would only make an already grueling and unpleasant period of every person's life significantly worse.

    Now, there ARE ways to improve our school system. They don't involve adding more time to the school experience. They involve, among other things, tailoring the curriculum to the needs of each student, reducing the focus on mindless drilling for standardised tests, reshaping the curriculum to focus on useful real-world skills, transplanting money currently spent on sports (which should have no place in an academic environment anyways) and other non-academic things such as ROTC into better textbooks, better teachers, and perhaps even undoing some of the damage idiot parents in this country routinely do to their children (such as teaching them that Earth is 6,000 years old and was created in six literal 24-hour days, for example). They also involve treating students like human beings and not mere items on an assembly line, and ensuring that every student is treated with dignity. (The epidemic of school bullying needs to end NOW.)

  • by Kr1ll1n (579971) on Monday September 03, 2012 @09:10PM (#41218699)

    This is an issue that is near and dear to me.

    I dropped out of high school in my sophomore year. I had my GED before the year was over. There was one time when I was sent to detention while I was attending school, and I got up and walked out, since I had a job to go to. The teacher supervising after school detention asked me where I was going, and when I told him, he just replied with "Well, I can't argue with that. Better not be late."

    In my life I have worked in massive data-centers, two major telcos, and am currently employed as level 3 Application Engineer, in a planning and design role. Not exactly bottom of the barrel.

    I don't believe that I was smarter than all of my peers, and it would be wrong for me to even feel that way. I do believe that a vast majority of my peers were gullible, and actually believed that high school, and then college, meant they would make the kind of money I currently make. None of my friends from high school come close to my salary, and they all graduated. Some even pursued college.

    Where am I going with this rant, you may ask?

    I wanted to study computer systems, networking, Latin, and physics. NONE of that was offered at my high school. I was told that those were classes I would have to take in college. If we have students that want to learn something, by God, we need to make sure we can facilitate that type of education.

    It is a complete waste to produce a class of 200+ idiots that have mastered nothing. It would be much more beneficial to produce a class of 50 that will all excel at something.

    We really should go back to a Trivium\Quadrivium method to ensure we are helping the remaining 150 identify their own ambitions;
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trivium_(education) [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quadrivium [wikipedia.org]

    One caveat; Trivium should always have more weight and bearing than quadrivium.

  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Monday September 03, 2012 @09:50PM (#41218991)

    No need to be humans. Be slaves and work 60+ hours a week, 49 weeks a year.

    We are on a bad path.
    Robotics are going to make it worse when they should be making it better.

    People do not have to work this hard to survive. When you work your entire life away- unless you love working- you basically didn't live. They took your entire life from you.

    It's one of the best systems of slavery ever developed. The slaves are all eager and willing to work until they have black eyes and are dying at their desks before they are even 55 years old.

    For bonus points, let's cut back retirement programs and make them work until 70 (if they can get a job) or until their bodies are unable to work any more (maybe disability- maybe out on the streets homeless to die an average of a decade earlier).

    It's horrific how much our society has changed over the last 50 years.

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