A few days ago, President Obama suggested that we should have a longer school day and year for our students because we are supposedly falling behind other countries in areas such as math and science. I have always wondered why people think this will suddenly make our children much smarter and more knowledgable in certain subjects. Personally, I think it is a complete waste of time to extend the school day and school year.
Think about the average day for a typical student in school. Here in Minnesota, the average student is in school for about 6 1/2 hours. For younger children, that is plenty of time to be sitting in a classroom. For older children, add on homework, maybe an extra circular activity and you are talking a pretty long day. Many students in high school have jobs after school and in the summer. By adding more time to the school day and year, these students would not get the amble opportunity to work and earn money for college.
And what about the teachers? For the record, I am not a teacher but I have friends and family members who are teachers. They are not excited about a longer day, especially in the summer. Those classrooms can get rather warm in the summertime. Even in Minnesota. Also, I can just see those teacher’s unions wanting a little pay increase because of the longer days. How are we going to handle that added expense? Hmmm, another tax increase?
I personally believe the best way to achieve these desired results is through quality education, not quantity. Sitting in a classroom and just listening to some teacher babble about a subject is not the way to learn. Too many classes are like that in the United States. Learning should be a hands on experience where the student participates heavily in the subject through homework assignments and class projects. More time should be allowed for the students to do homework assignments and projects rather than have them sit in some hot classroom for a longer period.
One of the biggest reasons we are falling behind other countries is because our standards are too low. Many high school grads have a very little understanding of basic math or reading comprehension. Schools need to be held accountable for this. Problem schools with low test schools need to be isolated so kids at those schools get a better education. We will never grow and prosper as a nation with such low standards. Increasing standard test scores should be the prime goal of any school district. The question is, how do we achieve this? Better quality rather than quantity teaching will always produce better results.