Friday, February 3, 2012

School's out

Education is weighed down by tradition. There are many features of school and university life that are only explained by "that's the way we've always done it." The persistence of the lecturing tradition is a case in point. It survives not because it promotes learning but because that's what we've always done and it's a very rational way of pretending to teach a lot of students at the same time. I'm not against tradition but some practices deserve to be re-examined at least once a century.

There's a good article in the The Telegraph today, School holidays are a pointless relic of the past. 100 years ago children needed long summer holidays to help with the farm work and they needed to leave school earlier in the afternoon to be able to help with housework. This is hardly relevant today and since schools finish earlier than working parents can get away from work we've created a whole new sector of child-minding and out of school clubs that looks after children during that gap (at a price of course).

"Today, working hours are largely based around the 9-5 model and it is almost unheard of for a working parent to be at home at the end of the school day, which is why we see such demand for our after-school provision. Parents would heartily support it becoming part of the formal daily structure in all schools; they don’t want to see their children hanging around on street corners, nor pay for childminders. Why, then, can’t we bring the school day in line with our working day? “Because it is unfair to teachers!” is the usual response, shouted very loudly by the unions. But is that really the case?"

The article argues that if the school year was more in line with the normal working year then teachers would have more time to provide a more rounded and less hectic curriculum. Do pupils really need 6-10 weeks summer holiday when parents only get half that amount at best. University students have 3 months of forced inactivity. Of course you can fill it wit temporary employment but many would far rather keep studying and completed their degrees quicker. Having been a teacher and a parent I can see both sides of the coin but the long summer break puts such a strain on so many families and many teenagers have trouble finding anything meaningful to do that it would be worth re-examining this tradition and maybe coming up with a radical solution more in line with the 21st century rather than the 19th.

1 comment:

  1. My point as well. At one time there acutallly was a person who suggested this after an investigation proposed by the Swedish government if I´m not wrong.

    Let´s be done with our school quicker either it´s compulsory och university, it should be better for the countries economy on whole.