I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted, but school and life have all but consumed me recently. Yet during my downtime I read an article that caused me to come on here and post something that I think is horribly wrong with the way we think about school and education in general. The article was ‘People Are Arguing That School Hours Don’t Make Sense For Working Parents’. Overall, the article reveals some unsettling things about our attitude towards education.
The premise of the article is that school schedules do not align with how our society’s current work schedule. Since school lets out earlier than the normal five o’clock time that work lets out, it’s hard for families to actually take the time to pick up their kids and ensure that they’ve arrived at home safe and sound. These supposed families can’t afford child care during the remainder of their workday and the ones that can find it unfair that they’re having to incur this cost due to their work schedule. So the solution? Lengthen the school day by a few hours to align with work schedules. Easy, right?
Here’s what the article gets right. Yes, school as it currently is in the public sector is wildly out of date with how our country currently does business. We continually adhere to a school schedule that is not compatible with our continually changing society. We’re conducting school as though we were still an agricultural society. We still grant summers off, which allows too much time for students to forget what they’ve learned during the school year, resulting in needless reteaching when we could be moving forward towards more mastery of subjects. Overall, our school system in its current configuration is lazy and unmoving to responding to the needs of our rapidly evolving society. This idea that our schools are out of date is the only thing this article gets right.
Here’s what it gets wrong. We don’t live in a 9-5 world! While the article claims to consider low income families that can’t afford to leave work or pay for child care, someone in the comments to this article made the good point that most of these families more than likely don’t lead a 9-5 life. Their schedules are mostly fractured with random shift times that change probably week to week. So who would this schedule really help?
Second, school should not be looked at as day care! This article reveals our current attitude toward school. Simply put, it’s a place where children go while parents are at work. Demanding that schools lengthen the school days puts undue stress not only on the teachers and staff that don’t get paid enough as it is, but on the students as well.
I shudder whenever someone suggests that more school is what our children need. It’s actually the other way around. Our kids need less school because we are robbing them of their childhood. Asking that schools lengthen their school hours means that we’re already grooming our children for the work force. In essence, schools are becoming factories for more workers. This isn’t how school should be. School should be an experience that gives them the skills and tools that children need in order to pursue their talents. Why are we assuming that all kids will want a 9-5 job? And why are we putting more on them when they and parents already struggle with the demands of our current school system?
In the end, this article is suggesting we pull off the bandage on an already bleeding wound. It’s not schools that should change their hours. What should change? Wages for workers. Cost of child care. The culture of working yourself to death, yet still being unable to make ends meat. These are symptoms to even greater problems that should be addressed before we even think about lengthening school hours. So for now, I say leave the children alone. They have enough to worry about without adding more school on them. Let’s instead figure out all our other problems outside the campus so that we can give our children back their childhoods.