Education for Life

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.

Holiday Homework
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 without a vacation!

6 thoughts on “Education for Life”

  1. For the “developed” country, US really does not have seem to have good long term strategy/vision.
    I know I know.. I am generalizing.

    The same vision issue comes in foreign policy, resources management, CEO pay etc.

    Coming back to this problem. Public schools assume/expect one of the parents to be at home. How else will you explain a 3 hr class from 11.30-2.30 for KG?

    On a slightly unrelated topic, Don’t get me started on how schools (primarily) makes girls think it is uncool to study science/math. I don’t have any stats, but I don’t have any “American” women engineer in my 1000 engineer company. 😦
    (Another blog waiting to happen huh?!)

  2. You talk about it in this angle…and here talks of how the kids are forced to study so much, carry so much burden, finish school and then off to tuition…
    I guess the ideal thing would be to strike a balance; such that the kids study and play. Don’t know if ideal works?! With peer pressure (or no not among the kids, the parents…) the kids are pushed more. The kids have to be geniuses, above average. Average just does not cut it. Kids are not let to be kids! One class lined up after another! Sorry to take up much space. I think I have written a post about such a thing…if not will write one 😀
    Good post though 🙂

  3. HI Aparna: I think both extremes don’t do well. While there has to be enough time and energy for children to pursue other activities, there should be sufficient time spent in organized activities such as School too.

    Indian academic pressure is one extreme, while 4 day(that too 6 hour) schools is another

  4. Leave about the childhood story. Today is the last day for paper submission in our company. I promised a demo and Started working very early (11 PM yesterday) and completed the half cooked story and send it for review. Today I found that the submittion date has been postponed to next week (All credit goes to Manager)

    Atleast for guys last meeting prep is fun :-))

  5. I think you have hit the nail on the head. Really valid points.

    I like the comparisons among different countries you give in your posts 🙂 Gives the post an international touch 😉

    Procrastination is a human habit and kids are not immune to it 😀 . I also agree with blogscanner “last meeting prep is fun” 😛

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