Thursday, March 03, 2005

Education in America -- year-round schooling

One easy improvement to our current school year is to get rid of summer vacation and have more frequent but shorter breaks throughout the year. Some schools already do this -- sometimes called year-round schooling or 45/15 (for the number of schooldays on and off, or 9 weeks of school followed by a 3-week vacation).

Such schooling has been around for quite a while -- I attended a 45/15 class from second to third grade at Highland Elementary in Norco, California in 1972-73, and still remember it fondly -- and in my opinion is far superior to the current method used by most schools.

It can be improved, however. If we are going to keep roughly the same number of school days, why not move to a 4-day school week (Monday-Thursday)? Twelve 4-day weeks equal 48 days per quarter, with a week off between quarters. The occasional Monday or mid-week holiday (Thanksgiving, New Years) would bring it down to 45 days. Make certain one break covers Christmas and the rest of the breaks will fall into place, one per season -- you'd have Spring, Summer, and Fall Break as well as a break during the holidays.

The nice thing about this is that it keeps Friday free -- which is not only where many public holidays land, but the day many schools set aside for sports competitions (football and others). This way, sports and extracurricular activities are less likely to interfere with schoolwork.

As a side note, the truly optimal method of year-round schooling IMO would be to have a 3/2 schedule -- three days on, two days off -- with appropriate vacations during the year. Unfortunately, that is extremely unlikely, since we'd need a 5-day week ( a calendar I'll blog about at a future time mainly as a fun idea). With a five-day week, you could have 18 weeks (16*3 or 48 days) per quarter, with two weeks off between quarters and an extra week off between school years. Since education would be less compressed, with plenty of breaks, students would have a better chance of learning the material required.


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