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Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round? 421

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 Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:05PM (#47639365)

    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 bistromath007 ( 1253428 ) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:17PM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:31PM (#47639501)

    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 Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:36PM (#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 ArcadeMan ( 2766669 ) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:52PM (#47639571)

    Input accepted. We are drones regurgitating whatever we have been programmed with. Awaiting next command.

  • by shess ( 31691 ) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:57PM (#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 @08:06PM (#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 UnderCoverPenguin ( 1001627 ) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @08:13PM (#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.

  • by Proudrooster ( 580120 ) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @08:14PM (#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... []

    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. []

  • by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @08:24PM (#47639713)

    That's a side affect of schools only getting state and federal aid money for time kids spend in school. It is also why schools like to delay snow days as much as possible. And why they love half days. Both of which are miserable for parents who you know work for a living.

  • by Paul Fernhout ( 109597 ) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @08:43PM (#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" []
    "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: []

    Especially: []
    "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: []
    "Schooling is a for

  • by dbc ( 135354 ) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @09:40PM (#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.

  • Nuts (Score:4, Insightful)

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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 09, 2014 @11:19PM (#47640211)

    Education is about increasing your understanding of the universe. Job skills often have little to do with academia. If you want job skills, go to a trade school, get a summer job (whoops), or find practice some other way; this 'We have to turn public schools into half-assed trade schools' nonsense is just ruining education further. Education isn't about preparing people for "life," either.

    I'm tired of people not understanding that education isn't about money, jobs, and glory. If you want that, then you need to change the system to offer trade school options for your kids; make it all voluntary, so those who want a real education can get one.

  • by umafuckit ( 2980809 ) on Sunday August 10, 2014 @03:17AM (#47640677)
    If he's like me, he's lost the freedom to have no responsibilities. i.e. that which you crudely brush off as a "mom and dad don't want to feed you any more" Having no responsibilities is a very liberating feeling. I rate it much higher than freedom to drink large-size soft drinks, which apparently some people consider to be crucially important.

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.