I read an article in the Times comparing the number of school days for children in the USA against the number of school days in other countries such as Korea, Japan, china, India, Australia etc. No surprises there – US ranks amongst the lowest in the world. Now thanks to the fuel escalation problems, a few schools are contemplating the move of reducing the week to have more hours per school day for 4 days, and reduce the totals number of school days from 5 to 4 per week. I am not sure I could stop with just outlining a few problems with this approach, but I’ll try not to ramble on…
1) Regardless of the number of hours spent in school, children are still left with one whole day apart from the week-end twiddling their thumbs and thinking of “recreational activities”. I have my serious doubts whether the studious teenagers would dedicate their unsupervised time and energy to finishing up their homework or additional research.
Every vacation, we left school with the familiar brown coloured sheets detailing our holiday homework. The holidays would start, and the holiday homework would find itself buried in my room and mind. In my mind, it would raise its head every now and then reminding me about the unfinished work as the holidays went slipping by. My intentions were good, but there was just not enough time! I had to pick berries, gather materials for our toy-house construction, cycle all over campus, read Enid Blytons and cook up adventures in my mind to solve. Before you knew it, it was the last week, and I was scrambling to complete my holiday homework. Countries may be different, but I am guessing children universally would dilly-dally till the last moment to do any work. I very much doubt that children would spend Friday toiling over their schoolwork while their parents are at work. My guess is it would still be done only on Sunday night afer giving considerable strain to parental nerves!
2) The parents would have to arrange for care for the children on this day. Companies are not giving us 4 day work weeks, they would still expect employees to be present on Fridays.
3) This point is the most jarring one. In a separate study comparing vacation times among US, Britain, Australia, France and Japan, US ranked the lowest. The number of Paid time off in the USA seems to be close to the lowest in the developed world! I am uncomfortable with this. I thought Education and schooling was meant to prepare you for life! This model teaches children to expect a lackadaisical 4 day work week, and then when they start working – BAM! We strap them to their jobs and whip them without a vacation!