Hi Readers! Worrying that American students are falling behind their international counterparts, President Obama is floating the idea of longer school days and shorter vacations. This is about as uncreative a solution as a man all about “change” could possibly have come up with.
“Now, I know longer school days and school years are not wildly popular ideas,” the president has said. “Not with Malia and Sasha, not in my family, and probably not in yours. But the challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom.”
Really? Who’s to say American kids are lagging because they aren’t spending enough time in school? Maybe it’s because they aren’t spending enough time LEARNING TO DO THINGS ON THEIR OWN! Kids who organize their own games of kickball develop communication skills, compromise, agility. Kids who sit at home with a book develop imagination, smarts. Kids who bake a cake work on their math skills. Kids who babysit develop empathy, and all-important fridge-raiding skills. Kids who look for four-leaf clovers (my one hobby as a young child) develop…the need for glasses. But also patience and a respect for nature.
There are so many “skills” a child does not get in the classroom, it is ridiculous to even have to argue this point. Especially because here’s the weirdest fact of all: Our kids already DO get more time in school. Tampa Bay Online reports that:
Children in the United States spend more hours in school (1,146 instructional hours per year) than do students in the Asian countries that persistently outscore the United States on math and science tests — Singapore (903), Taiwan (1,050), Japan (1,005) and Hong Kong (1,013).
So our kids should spend more time than they’re already spending even though with all that extra time they’re BEHIND? Couldn’t you interpret these numbers to say the LESS time kids spend in school the BETTER they do on math and science tests?
And it’s not like when you add on school hours there’s no trade-off! MORE school time means LESS self-direction. If we want to raise a nation of young people who never do anything without being told by an adult to do it, it’s hardly assured that we will end up with the kind of leaders and entrepresneurs Obama is looking for.
And besides: who will harvest our nation’s four leaf clovers? — Lenore