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Education Government United States

Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round? 421

Posted by timothy
from the home-schooling-never-stops dept.
Around the world, American schools' long summer break is viewed as an anomaly, and the long summer seems to be getting shorter. While most American primary and secondary schools used to start after Labor Day, more and more of them now open sometime in August (and that's not counting the ones that have gone to a year-round schedule). Some of my younger relatives started a new school year last week (in Indiana), while Baltimore schools start later this month. Both Seattle and Portland's kids have until after Labor Day (with start dates of the 3rd and 4th of September, respectively). The 4th is also the start date for students in New York City's public schools, the country's largest district. Colleges more often start in September, but some get a jump start in August, especially with required seminars or orientation programs for new students. Whether you're in school, out of school, or back in school by proxy (packing lunches or paying tuition), what time does (or did) your school-year start? Would you prefer that your local public schools run all year round, if they're of the long-summer variety? (And conversely, if your local schools give short shrift to summer, whether that's in the U.S. or anywhere else, do you think that's a good idea?)
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Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?

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  • by ZorinLynx (31751) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @06:03PM (#47639339) Homepage

    Kids should have at least a couple of months out of the year when they can just not worry about their studies and have fun and BE KIDS.

    I mean, jeez! You only get to be a kid once. Let them enjoy those summer vacations. When I think back to my childhood, my fondest memories are during those summer vacations! Why the heck should we take that away from our future generations?

    Leave summer vacation in place. And stop freaking shortening it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      School is not and never has been about education; it's about indoctrinating people into accepting authority (authority that matters, not petty school teachers) and rote memorization.

      We should not be "schooling" anyone at all; we should be educating. Schooling is different from educating.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 09, 2014 @06:36PM (#47639521)

        I grew up in a rural area. We had three months off during the summer, and didn't return to school until after Labor Day. During each summer hiatus, I learned the fundementals of practical physics and chemistry by playing and digging and chopping and burning and exploding stuff. We climbed, swam, ran. We spent whole days in the fields and woods. They were the best days of my life. I don't know that I will ever see such freedom again. It makes me treasure what precious few freedoms we have left.

      • by gwolf (26339)

        Oh, boy, we can get ethymological about this and get nowhere.

        I have heard the lines that "education" stems from the latin "ex ducere", "leading out" — which basically means developing, unrolling. But it needs to have a leader (a Duce) whom to follow.

        I have also heard people argue that "education" likely stems from "ductilis", from "making a person more ductile", more likely to follow their assigned roles in society.

        I have heard people insisting we should strongly favor "instruction" over "education",

        • by redeIm (3779401)

          I have heard people insisting we should strongly favor "instruction" over "education", because it has much less an ideological bend. Instruction is the communication of knowledge, of facts and skills.

          Whether at school or by yourself, you need to educate yourself. You can't come to an understanding of anything by passively listening to someone else talk; you need to think. Schooling (the current 'education' system, in other words) encourages you to memorize facts and procedures, not to understand.

          A person cannot say he has enough education to enter productive life if they never learnt the rudiments of algebra (for abstract thought), physics and chemistry (for a basic understanding of how the world around us works)

          "productive life"? If so, then these aren't required for that easy goal. But they're also not truly taught at school anyway.

          Also, plenty of people seem to get by without "schooling"; it's called homeschooling, u

    • by Firethorn (177587) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @06:07PM (#47639373) Homepage Journal

      Kids should have at least a couple of months out of the year when they can just not worry about their studies and have fun and BE KIDS.

      Sure. Give them 2-3 weeks a season. 3 months off in the summer currently means that they spend the first month back getting back into the swing of schooling and relearning some of what they've forgotten.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        If we're going to do that, then we're going to have to give teachers a massive raise to compensate for the lost income and freedom that came from having summers off. As it is, teachers are paid far less than other professionals with a similar level of education and similar amount of work.

        • by the phantom (107624) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @06:44PM (#47639545) Homepage

          First off, there would be no need to change the compensation. Teacher are currently contracted and paid to teach for nine months out of the year. Since year round schools also only hold classes for nine months out of the year, the amount of time spent teaching is the same and the contracts require no major changes.

          Second, I and many of the teachers that I have worked with *really* like the year round schedule. I can't speak for every teacher, and there are certainly a lot of teacher that prefer the traditional schedule, but I find the year round schedule to give me more useful freetime. On the one hand, I can more efficiently plan for shorter periods of time (I can make plans and have a chance of getting to them before I have completely forgotten what I was thinking---late September to mid December is a much easier period of time to plan for than mid August to mid December). On the other hand the year round schedule means that I am off when other people are still in school (and since year round schedules can vary quite a lot, even if everyone were year round, I would still be off at a different time from many people), which means that I can get into tourist attractions (Yosemite or Disneyland or whatever you prefer) without having to fight massive crowds. My experience with working in year round schools has been much better than my experience in traditional schools.

          None of this, of course, takes away from the argument that teachers ought to be paid more (which I think they should). I just don't think that a year round schedule makes much difference in that debate.

          • by joetomato (1073508) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @09:54PM (#47640155)
            With the three months off being all in one chunk over the summer, many teachers I know end up getting a summer job, waiting tables or cleaning houseboats or whatever. If you were to split that time up into a couple week chunks throughout the year it would pretty much take away that option.
            • Mod parent up. Especially with the de facto salary freeze that's been in effect since our lastlatest recession started in 2007, being able to find a second job is critical to being able to afford to teach

        • Comparing the education of a doctor, lawyer, or engineer with a teacher, seeing that the degree names look similar and that the time to get the degrees is similar, and concluding that the education levels are equivalent, shows an amazing quantity of gullibility. That teaching degrees are bullshit is fully demonstrated by the hundreds of thousands of college professors who've never taken a day of courses meant to create teachers.

        • As the husband of a teacher I can tell you I would VASTLY PREFER my wife having 2 weeks off a season instead of one bulk summer break. It would make family trips in the spring or winter so much simpler.

          People often forget that while teachers do get the whole summer off, they get ZERO flexible vacation days. This can be painful when you want to take say a random long weekend away.

      • by sjames (1099)

        If they forget it over the summer, they never actually learned it.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I used to be able to do differential equations and matrix multiplication and derivations and all kinds of other advanced mathematical techniques practically in my sleep.

          And then I left school, and promptly never used any of those techniques for about 15 years. At this point, I'd be hard pressed to solve any of these types of problems without a significant amount of time spent re-familiarizing myself with the techniques through study. I'd certainly remember how to identify the technique I should use, but I

          • by sjames (1099)

            I would say 15 years is just a wee bit longer than three months.

        • You did learn it, but it wasn't reinforced. Not many people can learn stuff and retain it long periods with only 1 session. You're looking at more like 3 sessions, minimum in order to retain something long term. Many people will require a dozen reinforcements. Think of it like vaccination in a way. Some vaccines you're good with 1 shot. Some require a booster here or there - giving both shots at the same time doesn't work, you NEED separation. Some you need updates on pretty much an annual basis.

          The

      • by Compholio (770966)

        Sure. Give them 2-3 weeks a season. 3 months off in the summer currently means that they spend the first month back getting back into the swing of schooling and relearning some of what they've forgotten.

        Exactly, because children are simply portable memory storage devices. People forget that if you don't keep plugging them into school then they will discharge information and won't learn anything new.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      american education either sucks or is very good (depending on where you live). I used to live in cupertino and the rent was crazy and its now TOTALLY crazy (my previous LL wanted to raise the rent $400 more each month because, well, she thinks she can; and the stupid parents who think their snowflakes NEED the local school system are willing to pay thru the nose). people move away from areas just to get away from bad (or normal) school systems.

      if you come from another country and raise kids you, it seems

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        american education either sucks or is very good (depending on where you live).

        A grand majority of it sucks. And, from what I've seen, people who think their schools are good usually just don't know what a good education even looks like to begin with, though that's not always the case.

        given all that, just to stay competitive

        Competitive? At what? Education isn't about getting jobs or any other such nonsense; it's about furthering people's understanding of the universe. Schools shouldn't be job training, unless they're trade schools.

        I dropped out of public school, and I dropped out for a damn good reason; it was awful. More o

        • by UnderCoverPenguin (1001627) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:13PM (#47639655)

          given all that, just to stay competitive

          Competitive? At what? Education isn't about getting jobs or any other such nonsense; it's about furthering people's understanding of the universe. Schools shouldn't be job training, unless they're trade schools.

          One of my co-workers is an immigrant from India. She got a real education resulting in 2 BA and 1 MA degree, all of it for free. Job training was her first few months at some company in India - during which she was paid.. Because of her education, she is actually a much better worker than most of her US "educated" colleagues.

          So yes, US born and raised people have a lot to be worried about vs their forgien counterparts.

          I dropped out of public school, and I dropped out for a damn good reason; it was awful. More of it would have only made me despise it even more. Fortunately, I got into a good state university and saw what education was supposed to be like.

          I was lucky enough to get a scholarship to private school, then scholarships to a top university, so I could receive a real education. Now, many fewer US kids get the opportunities that I did.

        • Education isn't about getting jobs or any other such nonsense

          <sarcasm> Why of course! All children should receive 13 years of primary education and come out unqualified to hold any job. Makes sense to me, after all, I had a public school education. </sarcasm>

          Education should prepare people for life, and if you're not prepared to support yourself through honest work, you're not prepared for life.

        • by Etherwalk (681268)

          Education isn't about getting jobs or any other such nonsense; it's about furthering people's understanding of the universe.

          That is one goal. Another goal is having students be employable when they graduate. These are not mutually exclusive.

      • by evilviper (135110)

        so that's another reason to have school all year round; it will save money for parents who don't want to have to pay for summer camps and things like that.

        No. Year-round schools still have the same number of days (180), they're just distributed differently. One lump sum, or spread-out?

    • Kids should have at least a couple of months out of the year when they can just not worry about their studies and have fun and BE KIDS.

      Sure, but it doesn't have to be one big block of time. Give them more three (or four) day weekends, a longer Christmas break, a whole week off for Thanksgiving, make Halloween a holiday, etc. This will give kids more time to go sled riding and build snowmen, rather than just do summer stuff. It will also give them a break and let them catch up on their sleep during the school year, when they need it most.

    • by shess (31691) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @06:57PM (#47639587) Homepage

      Kids should have at least a couple of months out of the year when they can just not worry about their studies and have fun and BE KIDS.

      The root problem is that school is a stultifying experience in the first place, arguing about whether you're going to somehow improve kids lives by varying the length of vacations isn't really going to change that at all.

      One of the reasons we moved our kids to a year-round Montessori school was because of the incredible amount of emphasis public schools have on attendance, at all costs, even at the elementary level. You want to take your kids to Washington, DC to visit the Smithsonian? Fuck that, it's more important for their butts to be in seats at school than to actually engage their minds on something new and challenging. Since we now pay out-of-pocket directly, the main rule on attendance is basically not to be disruptive. Got a chance to take them to the state capitol for a visit on Friday? That's great, go for it!

    • by fustakrakich (1673220) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:06PM (#47639635) Journal

      Our damn jobs shouldn't be year-round either. We all need more time off, and we should be demanding it, not begging for it.

      But since "school" is really day care, most parents will probably like it. In fact they would probably like to see three shifts, to match their work hours.

    • by naasking (94116)

      Kids should have at least a couple of months out of the year when they can just not worry about their studies and have fun and BE KIDS.

      School should be year-round and only 4 days a week. Maybe a 2-3 week break like their parents too.

      Long breaks are very detrimental to learning.

      • by Belial6 (794905)
        Short breaks can be worse. Imagine having people at work taking a vacation every 5 weeks.
    • by mysidia (191772) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:23PM (#47639707)

      I mean, jeez! You only get to be a kid once. Let them enjoy those summer vacations. When I think back to my childhood, my fondest memories are during those summer vacations! Why the heck should we take that away from our future generations?

      They don't have to eliminate vacations to have year-round schooling.

      What they should do is FIRST give students a 10-hour schoolday, just like office workers have; so instead of getting out at 2pm, students start at 7am and school lets out at 5pm, with a 1hour break/lunch.

      Next they should give students a 2 week vacation every 4 months.

      And reduce the number of schooldays from 5 to 4, so students have Wednesday off for self-study and go to school Mon, Tue, Thu, and Friday.

    • by tommeke100 (755660) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:37PM (#47639745)
      Research concluded that poor kids, where parents usually don't spend as much 'meaningful' time with the children, because they're busy working three jobs to get food on the table, actually lose knowledge (math, reading comprehension) during summer. Blue collar/middle class children usually were leveled whereas middle class/rich kids actually got a bit smarter during summer. (http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Summer_Learning_Loss/).
      So for some children there may certainly be a benefit to less vacation.
    • Regardless of its origin, the long summer break can work very well for kids - if our society would let today's (and tomorrow's) kids be like many of us were back when we were kids. I would say that the move for year long school is more because todays parents can neither take more than a very few weeks per year of vacation nor give kids as little supervision as their parents (or grandparents) did.

      That aside, our daughter's long summer breaks were (still are) good for her and her mother (my grilfriend). They

    • by GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @08:09PM (#47639855)
      I agree. Don't take away summer vacation. Smart kids can use it to educate themselves independently. And all of us citizens of Earth need to educate ourselves over our entire lives. This whole "Done at secondary education" stuff doesn't fly anymore now that we can study on the Internet.
    • There are actually a lot of places around the world where summer vacation is 3 months long. Some of these countries actually rank pretty high in terms of education quality.

      This entire discussion is bullshit.

    • by vux984 (928602)

      Kids should have at least a couple of months out of the year when they can just not worry about their studies and have fun and BE KIDS.

      My kids switched to an all year school. They get a December, March, and August off instead of 2 weeks for christmas, 2 weeks spring break, and 2 months summer.

      Do the math. Its the same number of school days. They still get to be kids.

    • I think that having such a large break means that, in many cases, kids are forgetting important knowledge and skills over the summer break as they sit at home or play football or work jobs. My old school district "solved" this problem by assigning required reading and book reports for the summer -- but if you're going to do that, why not just have full class?

      Personally, I think constant reinforcement is better for people to learn things. They should be in school year-round, being constantly reinforced and c

  • Who cares to even read the titles anymore?

  • One thing that gets missed in this whole year-round school debate is: when is the school going to have time for major maintenance, repairs, and renovations? Many schools are already packed through to the brim (in terms of classroom capacity) so it's not like they can close down an area of the campus/building to get work down while class is in session; construction noise and construction zone safety are major factors too. Ever been on the floor above when a construction worker is using an impact driver into
    • by mysidia (191772)

      One thing that gets missed in this whole year-round school debate is: when is the school going to have time for major maintenance, repairs, and renovations? Many schools are already packed through to the brim (in terms of classroom capacity) so it's not like they can close down an area of the campus/building to get work down while class is in session

      Office buildings don't seem to have this problem.

      I think the answer is simple: DONT OVERPACK STUDENTS; overbuild capacity is a must. Or construct additiona

      • by guises (2423402)
        And, of course, you're illustrating the real problem with this idea: it would cost money. Money for buildings and money for teachers, and if there's one thing that Americans won't abide by (there are actually many things) it's spending money on stuff that doesn't blow other stuff up. Or medicare. (but not socialized health care! we aren't communists!)
        • by mysidia (191772)

          And, of course, you're illustrating the real problem with this idea: it would cost money. Money for buildings and money for teachers

          This is already an issue. More money needs to be spent, even if we don't go to year-round schooling.

          Also... a 4-day school week, 2-week vacation every 4 months and perhaps a 3-week winter break would also still provide plenty of time for building maintenance; they would just have to prioritize the maintenance differently.

          For example: schedule it around the days that

    • When I was in high school, they were remodeling three out of the four years I was there. Somehow, we all managed to survive. It did mean that some kids had to share lockers with their friends and the "class corridor" (i.e., senior corridor, freshman corridor) system sort of broke down as people tried to snag lockers where they could.

  • by bistromath007 (1253428) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @06:17PM (#47639429)
    When I have children, I will do everything in my power to keep them out of school as much as possible. They will learn far more by just idly dicking around at a library. Our pedagogy is a terrible joke, and even good teachers' efforts are wasted due to the poisonous atmosphere created by forcing a heterogenous population of few thousand stressed and bored children to spend several hours a day together.
    • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:43PM (#47639775) Homepage

      We homeschool/unschool -- however, at great expense in terms of professional opportunity cost. As others have pointed out to echo your point, there is a big difference between "schooling" and "education". This is true even in the very "best" school districts which can be terribly oppressive places for children whose interests are not mostly academic or, in some cases, artsy and who don't plan to go to a top college and so would bring down the schools college acceptance scores. This can include hands-on practically-oriented children or wide-ranging people-oriented children or free-thinking imaginative children and so on who may not do well in settings focusing on abstraction or interactions with only-same age peers and authority figures or working on assigned tasks with arbitrary structure and with arbitrary timetables.

      Your point also connects with bullying, A normal resolution to bullying by another kid might be to avoid him or her and choose different kids to associate with. However, school structure does not permit that for kids crammed together in a classroom. Izzy Kalman and "Bullies to Buddies" provides help for for unavoidable bullies though.

      See also by John Taylor Gatto:
      "The Seven Lesson Schoolteacher"
      http://www.worldtrans.org/whol... [worldtrans.org]
      "After an adult lifetime spent teaching school I believe the method of mass-schooling is the only real content it has, don't be fooled into thinking that good curriculum or good equipment or good teachers are the critical determinants of your son and daughter's schooltime. All the pathologies we've considered come about in large measure because the lessons of school prevent children from keeping important appointments with themselves and with their families, to learn lessons in self- motivation, perseverance, self-reliance, courage, dignity and love and lessons in service to others, which are among the key lessons of home life.
      Thirty years ago these things could still be learned in the time left after school. But television has eaten up most of that time, and a combination of television and the stresses peculiar to two-income or single-parent families have swallowed up most of what used to be family time. Our kids have no time left to grow up fully human, and only thin-soil wastelands to do it in. A future is rushing down upon our culture which will insist that all of us learn the wisdom of non-material experience; a future which will demand as the price of survival that we follow a pace of natural life economical in material cost. [PDF: I question the previous point on material scarcity...] These lessons cannot be learned in schools as they are. School is like starting life with a 12-year jail sentence in which bad habits are the only curriculum truly learned. I teach school and win awards doing it.
      I should know."

      More by John Taylor Gatto (1992 New York State Teacher of the year) here: https://www.johntaylorgatto.co... [johntaylorgatto.com]

      Especially: http://www.johntaylorgatto.com... [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."

      Also: http://www.the-open-boat.com/G... [the-open-boat.com]
      "Schooling is a for

  • I believe that the problems in education are not unlike the problems that Americans encounter in living their lives. Its very hard for an individual to manage a successful life these days, even with an education. For parents with children and scarce resources and education its even harder. If year round schooling can be part of a routine for working parents so that they can consistently manage work and supervision of their children while they are at work, then I believe that will have a profoundly positi
  • We have very long summer breaks. My kids have the French calendar, two whole months for vacarions, and a week break every six weeks.

  • If the school is a hell-hole, then the students would probably be better off working in a sweatshop full time. At least, they'd be getting paid.

    If it's a nice place with a solid education near the degree of progress of a good college or vocational school, then year round would work out, I think. I would miss summer vacation though in that situation.
  • by meburke (736645)

    I have had to interview numerous High School graduates and Junior College attendees who were so bad at math they couldn't run a cash register. What evidence is there to indicate that "schooling" over the summer is a benefit to them or Society at large?

    Although I object to his lack of citations, real proof, and his use of innuendo and other false arguments, I strongly agree that John Taylor Gatto http://johntaylorgatto.com/ [johntaylorgatto.com] is right: The American Education system is irrevocably broken and must be redesigned

  • Research clearly shows that skills regress if students don't apply those skills for over three weeks (on average; different students naturally have different retention rates.) Year round schools don't generally have significantly more school days than those with long summer breaks, they just have shorter and more frequent breaks. Kids *still* get times to be kids, but the classroom spends less time in review so more forward progress can be made. Year round schooling is better for the students, but it's not

  • by Proudrooster (580120) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:14PM (#47639659) Homepage

    Summer vacation has an effect size of d=.02 on learning, which is not good. .4 = 1 year of growth

    http://ibiologystephen.wordpre... [wordpress.com]

    But here is the deal, the longer we stop doing something, the less proficient we are at doing it. Think balancing a chemical equation in chemistry or solving the a Lorentz time dilation problem in physics, or remembering the plot of Snow White (assuming you haven't seen in 10 years).

    Sure kids forget, we all do, but it is easy to dive back in and strengthen those memories with review, just like exercising a muscle.

    To me the point of education should be this, teach kids to love learning, be curious, and learn how to learn. As a teacher, if you have done this, you have done your job. The goal of teaching is not to turn kids into homework machines that suck the life out of them so they can perform on the standardized test, all the while making them hate school and learning. Anything you learn today is obsolete in less than 4 years anyway and many things forced on kids in schools via state standard wish-lists are useless.

    Childhood is a precious time where we learn lots and lots of stuff without sitting quietly in a desk. We build, we play, we explore the world, we ride bikes, dance, sing, play with dad's tools, and make all sorts of discoveries which aren't covered on standardized tests.

    So it comes down to this, do we want study machines or children? Ask the children in South Korea.

    Scroll down, school is like prison.
    http://www.ashesthandust.com/t... [ashesthandust.com]

    • by mysidia (191772)

      Think balancing a chemical equation in chemistry or solving the a Lorentz time dilation problem in physics, or remembering the plot of Snow White

      Elementary/High school students don't really need to retain the skills such as balancing a chemical equation. They've studied the material, they've proven they have learned it.

      Students may appear to have forgotten it --- but that's just because it's not important, since they don't use it in their daily lives. They don't really need to know this, and rememberi

  • by Edgester (105351) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:15PM (#47639663) Homepage Journal

    In North Carolina, USA, There was a surprising opponent to year-round schooling. It was the tourism industry.

  • I learned far more during the months off in summer than I did in school. Don't get me wrong, learning to touch type in school was valuable.

    But I learned how to be a productive member of society working summers. I learned how to be an individual person at summer camp--arguably my moment of self actualization. Trips with families exposed me (back when this existed) to different societies/cultures--as well as that humans are all essentially the same ego pursuers.

    If some venue taught me how to balance a chec

    • This is a huge point most educators miss. School actually teaches you very little about life outside of school. School is a very limited subset, and very unrealistic reproduction of reality. If I don't like where I work, I get a different job. Unless your parents move (or are rich) you don't get another school. A huge part of a vast portion of society will working alone or in small groups. Not in a room with 20+ other people with the same task.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:17PM (#47639679) Homepage

    This is from a Norwegian perspective, so anything here may or may not apply to the US. Here in Norway the three last weeks of July are extremely common to take vacation in, it's known as the "fellesferie" = "common vacation". It's a leftover from when many industries literally stopped in the summer, with the exception of those doing maintenance/upgrades. Basically where it's hard to run with half the staff, everyone gets the the same forced vacation. There's a huge network effect so everything is closed/on skeleton crew because everything else is too. What it practically means though is that every vacation resort or activity is crowded and overbooked, prices are insane and those who can avoid it.

    For this reason being able to take vacation before (June) or after (August) or really any other time has become a perk and so it's been spread relatively thin. The school vacations though, they're like forced vacations so yes they're roughly 8 weeks to accommodate when their parents have time off, and even that is challenged as they want to travel in the off season. If the vacations had been shorter, all the parents would all have to squish together in those same weeks. Either that or you'd have to make the school vacation flexible, but then you'd have to run it all summer long for those who happen to be there at that time.

    As I recall, in summer school was always a place to send your kids to if both parents had to work and you needed someone to take care of you, but that was not school. There were no teachers, no classrooms. It was more like supervised play, basically they kept track that you didn't get lost or hurt but we were left to make up our own activities with those we wanted to play with and there was no forced participation in anything, though they did try to get something going if all looked bored. I suppose in retrospect I'd call it big kid daycare, that's really what it was but there was a completely different level of freedom to it than school.

    Nothing beat the sense of freedom from NOT going there though, to really be unsupervised even for just a few hours. I think it's a natural part of growing up, if you're always in school with people looking after you and then always with your parents looking after you then sooner or later you're going to drop off a cliff when you're on your own. I'm mostly glad I didn't have a cell phone as a kid, I couldn't go crying to mommy and daddy and they couldn't be overprotective as independence was sort of a necessity. I think as a parent today it would be awfully hard to let go simply because you have the technological ability not to.

  • by pubwvj (1045960) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:21PM (#47639695)

    Homeschooling is all day, all week, all year, for life.

    We homeschool.
    We started when our kids were born.
    They learn every day.
    Every day of the week.
    Every week of the year.
    It's lifetime learning.

    They still get to be kids.
    And they work on our farm.
    Their mastery is far above public, and private, school levels for the same age.
    They don't spend weeks and months forgetting stuff over vacations and summer.
    They don't waste gobs of time on wait-wait-wait and sitting around as is the way of modern schooling.
    They take responsibility for learning as they develop that ability rather than being tracked by an artificial curriculum which wastes time on politically correct nonsense.
    They learn real science untainted by PC sensitivities.
    They love learning. The joy of it isn't killed by the grey public school agenda.

    This is like life used to be and better than the disconnected of today which is a result of the dystopia of urban culture.

  • A Different Approach (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DERoss (1919496) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:32PM (#47639731)

    I was an elected school board member in the 1980s. During that time, I would attend the annual California School Boards Association conferences.

    One year, I heard an interesting presentation on a form of year-round schooling. The presenter described a calendar in which regular classes would meet for 9 weeks followed by a 3-week break, making a four-quarter school year. The 3-week break would not be a break for all students. He pointed out that 9 months of failure could not be corrected in only 6 weeks of summer school, a ratio of 6.5 to 1. Instead, students not meeting expected academic performance would have to attend remedial classes during the 3-week break, a ratio of 3 to 1.

    It was already a noticeable problem in our schools that students would sometime miss classes because their parents took them on a skiing trip in the winter, to visit family in the spring, or to see fall color. As a member of the 2005-2006 County Grand Jury, I learned that this problem had grown worse county-wide in the 15 years after I left the school board. This radical calendar would provide 3 weeks off for those trips for students who were performing well in class.

    This calendar would also provide an extra 2 weeks around Christmas and New Year, when even remedial students and their teachers would be off. It would provide for all the holidays the state Legislature mandates on public schools. Yet it would still involve the full 182 days of instruction annually that the Legislature also mandates. By shifting teacher in-service days to the 3-week breaks, students would actually be learning during all 182 days.

    Of course, there would be increased costs for the remedial instruction and for the in-service days. That likely dooms this concept since too many members of the state Legislature think cutting taxes is the most important thing they can do, more important than educating our children, repairing our roads, assuring a supply of water, or anything else.

    • This is the first interesting idea on year-round schooling I've seen. However, lots of colleges and universities offer summer academic programs for high school students, so I wouldn't want my kids to miss out.
    • by dbc (135354) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @08:40PM (#47639925)

      I was with you until you started blaming the tax-cutters for all our woes. I've seen many of the schools in the Silicon Valley area. Seen what they have that is new and well maintained (football fields, gyms, etc) and what is in deplorable conditions (science labs, teacher work preparation areas). And... I've seen the Santa Clara county department of education offices, and the large fountain they have in the spacious three story atrium and the nicely appointed giagantic meeting rooms. Sure, it takes money to run a school -- maybe the administrators should start spending it on education instead of fountains in atriums. When the science labs are well equiped and the county administrators are working out of the same size cubical that I had as a second-level engineering manager at a successful company just down the road, then we can talk about finding money to fill the real needs. Fountains in atriums for non-teaching administration offices are not a real need.

      Yes, I resent that fountain, and that office building. I pay for it. When I walked into that building for the first time I was livid. That fountain is not doing anything at all toward getting my child educated. You want to know why the tax cutters are so strident? It is because they are so badly outnumbered by the tax squanderers. There needs to be a focus on results, and on what gets results, and then people will willingly pay their taxes.

      • I don't agree with cutting taxes to schools, but I do agree school administrators need to be held to account. I remember when we passed an increase for schools and the money was specially provisioned for various things: Teacher salary increases, labs for students, etc. It has specific provisions of what to spend it on. So what happened? The administrators gave themselves nice raises and had to get sued over it.

        The answer in my opinion is not to reduce school funding, but to increase administrator accountabi

  • Massachusetts has great schools, among the best in the world. [mikethemadbiologist.com]

    They don't have a 12 month school year.

    The first thing to do is getting the normal school year working properly across the US. Then we can come back and talk about 12 month school years.

  • by Art3x (973401) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @08:14PM (#47639871)

    I loved school, but I'm for summer break, a generous one from Memorial through Labor Day. In fact I've been mulling whether grown-ups should have summer breaks too, if we could.

    School is a narrow, weird world. It readied me in some ways, but in others I was a seedling. There are other ways a child must grow. Playing at home and in the neighborhood, hanging from trees, exploring, etc., are very good for the brain and the heart. Some kids go to camp, whether it be outdoor, sports, music, or whatever. You can't very well spend a month concentrating on a certain field when you have to go to school. I myself wasn't a joiner. I rejected Boy Scouts, band, and all sports. But I made up for it when I discovered moviemaking. In high school I made about 40 movies, short ones, but they had screenplays, multiple camera angles, special effects, editing, the best I could do.

    I lament that I no longer have that creativity, and I blame it on the year-round non-stop drudgery that is the American way. Someone once said that a Frenchman told them you need five weeks: one week to get ready, two weeks to go somewhere, and two weeks to recover from vacation. Here we nary get more than week off at a time. There's just never a chance to recharge.

  • by qpqp (1969898) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @08:40PM (#47639923)

    In the USSR summer vacation used to be roughly three months, however children got a list of books to read (and I'm not talking about one, or two. More like 10-15 mandatory and another 10-20 optional) and, come September, were questioned on them.
    9th or 10th grade (don't remember) contained such gems as War and Peace (the complete four-tome!), Crime and Punishment, Eugene Onegin, Queen of Spades, and other quite serious works.

    I've experienced several school systems and neither Austrian, German or US systems came even close to teaching as much as the Soviet did. I went to "good" schools, some of them quite expensive. In the latter three countries, students were quite vocal about objecting to having more than one exam in a week, even though they had to be announced up front. In the USSR, you just *had* to be prepared for *each* class or risk getting a bad grade for the quarter.
    The Soviet system also separated literature and language, as well as math and geometry, whereas the other three systems lumped these subjects together into language+literature and math+geometry.
    All in all, the Soviet system was *much* more satisfying and intellectually stimulating than any other system I had the "pleasure" of experiencing.

    A short anecdote: we've learned matrices in 7th grade in the USSR. When I was called to the board to solve a system of linear equations in 9th grade in AT, it was quite amusing to experience the surprised teacher say that this is something people learn in University for their STEM degrees.
    On the other hand, I had to catch up a year of Latin there, so I guess that even out the surprise. When I later moved to Germany and asked the principal there whether Latin is part of the local curriculum, he asked me if I was planning on listening to Radio Vatican. I thought that's funny at the time, but my little knowledge of Latin still helps me understand a great deal of languages I don't speak and I wish I'd have learned more.
    The US school I visited was a jack of all trades, more focused on creative education and quite boring, as I've already went through most of the curriculum in other countries (i.e. it lagged behind all other systems! You people there really gotta work on that, before it's too late.).
    BTW, Austria had two months of summer vacation, and Germany around 3-4 weeks (it sucked big time, so unproductive and slow the whole year!).
    For my kids, I'd prefer them to go to school in Russia and Austria, as that's a very good mix IMO.

    I've heard the Japanese school system is even more intense (with students even committing suicide over the workload, etc.). Maybe someone would like to provide a short comparison in a reply.

  • Nuts (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JeffElkins (977243) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @08:42PM (#47639931)

    This is crazy. We've allowed our kids to be overloaded with homework; now we're letting the education lobby steal summer vacation. Once the state is able to jack the retirement age up to 85 or so we'll have the perfect hive society.

  • While I generally support year-round schools it will make maintenance of the schools a bit trickier. Just about half the schools here get some sort of construction done on them every summer and it's almost always down to the wire getting it finished in time for classes to start.

  • We need to stop teach the test and move away from the push to have all go to college.

  • Me>So you want year round school in the south, but do you want to pay for it?

    Other person>But it's the same amount of days, they are just spread apart differently.

    Me> But not all days are created equal, when it's 105F out, you're spending a whole lot of electricity to keep the place cool. Even worse, most school busses are not equipped with air conditioning and would have to be refitted or replaced.

    http://www.yourhoustonnews.com... [yourhoustonnews.com]

  • by russotto (537200) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @09:43PM (#47640127) Journal

    ...more of it is worse. And even if total days of school are the same, penny-ante 2-week-long breaks spread throughout the year are not as good as a long break to let the body and mind rest from the trauma of public school.

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Saturday August 09, 2014 @09:50PM (#47640147) Journal

    Abolish "schooling" altogether. it's an obstacle to learning.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U... [wikipedia.org]

    -jcr

  • by msobkow (48369) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @09:51PM (#47640151) Homepage Journal

    Summer vacation was originally created so farmers could use their children as labourers during the crop season.

    Nowadays it exists mainly because the teachers unions would scream bloody murder if teachers had to work all year like everyone else.

    With the number of double-income families nowadays, it would be a lot easier for parents to deal with 4 1-2 week breaks per year instead of a couple months at one shot, due to the hassles of arranging child care for the summer months.

    However, I don't expect anything to change in the near future. See earlier point on unions.

    • by bussdriver (620565) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @10:18PM (#47640207)

      Yes, farming was a big reason.

      Summer cooling is expensive. Teachers should be paid more if they work more. Nobody would work 2 more months per year at the same pay. (Teachers end and start at different dates than the students.)

      I learned a great deal during the summer vacation. Don't let school interfere any further with your child's education!

      More children need to be allowed to FAIL... and spend their summer saving face so they can be with their peers again.

      Not that anything matters when you have a system geared for rote learning to pass standardized multiple guess exams; ignoring all the less quantifiable education or things not deemed important enough to regiment into a rigid exam system.

      • by msobkow (48369)

        Nowadays your "real world learning" seems to mean sitting with an X-Box or equivalent for hours a day. There are several kids living on my block -- I've seen them outside less often than I do during the school year, so it's not like they're spending the summer days playing outdoors or anything like that.

        No, every kid I know is glued to a TV, a cellphone, a tablet, or a computer. They're not learning *shit* about the "real world".

    • by Wild_dog! (98536)

      Hmmm I grew up farming. Much of the work went on long before school let out for the summer. Even more of it happened after kids went back to school. The long summer was mostly for watching the plants grow.

  • A better question might be; why is it that education is one of the few things we seem to be getting worse at as we advance? More hours in school does not seem to be translating into better trained, more educated, economically useful graduates, but rather the opposite.
  • Absolutely. I have to work all the time and I fear for my children becoming less than fully indoctrinated as any deviation in thought may result in a loss of employability and social acceptance.

  • Creativity and imagination are more stimulated by the long days of summer than much of what we learn in schools. I would never want my kids to miss out on this. I wouldn't want them to not have the time to think and create with their friends on their own terms. The time for regimentation and order comes quickly enough. Let the kids have the time they will cherish for the rest of their days.

    "Around the world, American schools' long summer break is viewed as an anomaly"

    I think I need more qualification about

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