The GEM Debate:
Do Kids Need More Quality Or Quantity Hours In School?
It’s no secret I like television. Well, I guess it’s now no longer a secret. I can watch it for hours on end, but not just any television. Reruns are my favorites. There are some that I can quote to you, tell you where the person was when they said it, and can tell you why ever syllable was important. How does that tie in with today’s debate? Hang on tight; it’s about to get bumpy.
According to the Huffington Post, some are saying American kids need a longer school year to be competitive globally. Pilot programs to add some 300 hours to the academic school year have cropped up in five states with even the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, saying children need more education. I have to say I agree.
Back to my television for a moment. The more you do something, the better you get at it. It’s really not rocket science (unless you are a rocket scientist) that this formula would make anyone more adept at their task. The first time I watched TV I was a novice; now I consider myself a pro at the shows that have caught my fancy and my repeated attention making me a better writer, producer, and storyteller. Take this same approach to learning where children learn the basics not just once and are tested, but they get the concept drilled into them repeatedly with different examples and learning techniques until they are really comfortable and you’ve got smarter children.
There are those who say that children will be deprived of their vacations. I have an answer for that if anyone is listening. I’ll hop up on my new soapbox for this one. Let’s stop with the perfection right here! Perfect attendance awards should be null and void. We are awarding kids for just showing up and at the end of the groggy-eyed mornings those awards really belong to the parents. Let’s take the perfect attendance component out of schools and let parents schedule some real time off for them. Give them meaningful vacations where the family goes somewhere historical or educational or where the parents let their kids sit at home once in a while and take an unscheduled day as a reward for working so hard. How about taking time to really get well when the kid is sick? I feel these are the things that kids are missing that leak into adulthood and cause so much anxiety. We don’t know how to just take a break every now and then. We have to have it scheduled and these kids have to wait 180 days or so every year just to enjoy summer. Some of them may actually like winter.
As it stands America is just ranking average when it comes to academics. Finland and South Korea ranked one and two respectfully according to another Huffington Post article which deals with which countries have the best education in the world. As it stands Finland, Korea, and Japan aren’t sending their kids to school for as many hours. The number of hours varies, but on average American children are in school longer than the top schools and we just aren’t getting the job done. Of course, there are those who would argue that we need to show more appreciation to the teachers (and we should) or focus less on standardized testing and more on the lessons (and we should) and that would increase the standing of our children globally; more like it isn’t the number of hours in school, but the quality of those hours.
So that’s a lot of information, isn’t it? What do you think? Would kids benefit from longer hours in school or should we just do more with the time we have? Let’s hear you guys on this one!
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Ella Rucker is the mother of one of the smartest, funniest two-year-olds she’s ever met. She is currently assistant to the head GEM which means hats-a-plenty including writing, editing, and producing for Good Enough Mother. An Ohio native implanted in NYC for the last 13 years, Ella has achieved one of her many dreams by writing. Her musings (she’s amused they’d be called “musings”) can be found at other places on the web so make sure you follow her on twitter@ellalaverne for all the information.