In a move aimed at bolstering student achievement, local school districts across the country may enact longer school days next year. Lawmakers are also considering shorter summer vacations for students.
Despite parent and student concern, officials say the move may be necessary to keep kids on par with students in other U.S. regions, as well as competitive with high-achieving worldwide students.
These officials have the narrow view that success can and should be measured solely on the amount of time spent in a building. However, the reality is that the overall quality of education received is so much more complex. In fact, American students already attend school for roughly the same duration per day (and weeks per year), than their counterparts in other countries.
Most kids also have low attention spans. This doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with them. That’s just what being a kid is. Forcing them to concentrate on difficult tasks and projects for hours on end is counter-productive.
Just the Way It Is
Scientific research has confirmed that teenagers and pre-teens need more sleep than other people, and that their attention spans are at lower levels in the early morning and late afternoon. What benefit arises, then, from keeping a student who is zoned-out due to lack of sleep in class for two, three, four more hours?!
Despite the ‘research’ that school districts provide — data surely stacked heavily in their favor — there is no concrete evidence that a longer school day or term would necessarily produce positive results. In fact, among the schools that have adopted this sort of policy, there has been little change in student achievement and productivity, and only a slight increase in overall grades.
Longer hours would take a negative toll on already over-worked teachers. Parents — bound by their own hectic work schedules — also suffer with this proposal.
This ideal arises every few years, whenever some lawmaker or another wants to make a name for themselves. I still cling to hope, though, that soon it will be revealed for the fantasy it is.
by Peter P. Gaseoustania
Residential Life Magazine