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Thread: Added Class time

  1. #1
    Enchanter Kalle al'Tear's Avatar
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    Default Added Class time

    President Obama is now saying that American Children do not spend enough time in school, and that it is putting our students at a disadvantage with other kids around the world.

    He is saying that American Children need to lose a big chuck of their summer vacations. and go to school for about 3 weeks of that time. He is also saying that the school days should be longer. Suggesting adding 2 hours to every school day.

    So I was wondering what everyone here thought about that. ( should be interesting since we have a mix of Americans, and those in various countries some of which do these longer times)

    Now I personally don't have much against adding a little time on at the end of the school year. The 3 weeks seems reasonable and it would still leave the kids with some sort of break. However my concern here is. How are the schools supposed to pay for this added time? I know that Public school districts around me some of them are really struggling. They have cut so much already (even shutting down a whole Elementary school at one District because they couldn't fund it and shipping those children off to other schools which end up over crowded) and if they have to go even longer into the year I think it would hurt the schools and there for the kids.

    The adding 2 hrs a day to the school day I very much disagree with. In addition to concerns on how they would pay for the teacher's to work the longer hours.. My kids start school at 8:30am (which means they have to be at the bus stop at 7:30am to get there in time) They are released from school at 3:30pm. if you add two hours to their day the kids are not being released until 5:30pm. some of them wouldn't arrive home due to busing until 6:30pm. That is an extremely long day for a child to have to deal with. On top of that as the kids get older they get more and more homework added onto them. the average amount of homework for a 5th grader at my kids school district is 2hrs worth of homework a night. so lets say they eat a quick meal and then go straight to homework.. They are not finishing until 8:30-9:30pm at which time they should be going to bed so that they are getting the amount of sleep that they need to focus and be ready to learn in the morning.

    When do they get to just be kids with this plan? When do they get to just relax and hang out with their friends to elevate some of the stress that trying to get good grades can cause. When can those who want to do sports get a chance to do that if they are not even getting out of school until Dinner time.


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    Quick! To the Volcano! High House Moon Eyreplenh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Added Class time

    Although not an american, I have some thoughts about this...

    Firstly, I agree with your scepticism about the longer days. In fact, I think the original 08.30 to 3.30 sounds a bit long, for kids. Here, a typical day for children (>/=12) starts at 0800 and ends at around 1.00. Of course, there might be differences in the amount of breaks and stuff (about 5 min per hour here).

    Of course, there's a whole lot to the equation I don't know. Is the lunch break an hour or more, perhaps, or if there's an obligatory hour of physical ed in the middle it doesn't sound so bad. Is organised sports/hobbies maybe included in this new plan?

    Over here, despite, or maybe because of having our oil-fortune, we are falling further and further behind the rest of europe (about par with you I would guess) in terms of the level of education. Not in the amount of time spent in school, but what we're left with when we finish. It either follows we're not spending the time right or that we're just inherently stupid. I'm not turning aside either of those options

    But, aha, the point! Our sitting government has tried to solve this problem, in their typical socialistic way (I vote for them so I'm allowed to ridicule them) by adding hours to the schedule. As you point out, it's a strain on the excisting teachers, who're not working under the right kind of circumstances in the first place. Also, without a fundamental change in the what the amount isn't going to change anything.

    As I see it, education is the way to go, it lies at the bottom of most problems small and large in our society. The poorly educated are fatter, less healthy, pollutes more, etc etc. I do not mean to sound harsh, but that's the way it is. Improving educational levels might just save our sorry little asses in the end.

    That being said, as it stands here in Norway, none of the sides are willing to take the bill for the huge bill this change this will take. In stead, the leftist talk more, whilst the right side talks about better -this meaning some rewrites and commitee-work without any real change taking place.

    The way I see it, you have to start with the teachers. Over here, apart from the few noble souls with a calling, the people becoming teachers are the people whose hairdresser-dreams have been crushed because of poor academic preformance. And I've suffered under them for years. I remember as a twelve-year old we had to correct our teachers pronunciation and re-correct some of the corrections she made in our english-essays

    So here's a plan I think would work. Increase the salary for teachers. In fact, over here, one might double it without it being too weird. It's a fact of life that money is what drives us, and an increase of the wages would attract better heads -producing yet better heads at the next go-around. And that's pretty much it, complicated, eh? Of course, it will never happen, because teachers get paid by the state, and whatever government/president pushes this through works up a massive budget-deficit that will take it/him down at the next election.

    Basically I don't think pushing quantity is a good idea before the quality is of a high enough standard. But it takes time, and in the year of the sodden old lord 2009, time ain't nothing we gots.
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    Enchanter Kalle al'Tear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Added Class time

    I forgot to add this to the debate

    Another reason why President Obama says he wants to lengthen the school days is because it would keep kids in the inner cities off the streets between 3-7pm which I guess is supposed to be a bad time for them. But in my opinion it shouldn't be up to the schools to babysit those kids. If he is so concerned about them he should come up with programs to help those in those areas. I mean the YMCA has some great programs to keep kids off the streets.. maybe the they could help extend on those ideas.

    Also it was said that Parents who were school drop outs.. or are living at or below the poverty line aren't able to help their kids with things such as Learning to read and stuff.. He claims that only families that are above the poverty line take the time to get their kids reading tutoring or whatever..

    Personally I am offended by that. The poverty line for a family of 4 in America is $22,050 a year. I have never in my life come even close to making that much money. the highest I have ever made was $17,000. (I am not a drop out, just people pay Child care workers hardly anything to take care of their kids) and Yet I read all the time to my children.. I searched out free reading programs during the summer so that my kids could keep up their reading skills.. I know tons of families who take advantage of the free reading clubs at the library to encourage their kids to keep reading during the summer. and if I had been able to find a math program to put my daughter in I would have taken advantage of that as well.

    Maybe he should help fund Places that do offer free or low cost tutoring for our kids. I am not sure the solution.. but I do think that making our children go for longer periods of time during the day wont help. Our kids are overextended as it is. and like I said when would they have time for Sports which help our kids build self confidence.. or for taking on roles in the Drama Department or whatever else interests them and is a part of helping them figure out who they are as people and what they want to do with their lives.
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    Mistress of Shadows High House Moon night faerie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Added Class time

    interesting topic. They've been talking about this whole extending the school year thing for ages, since I was in school. ~shakes cane~ The whole financial issue is a whole separate issue, don't get me started on that, the school system in this country is so pathetically underfunded it's absurd. But for arguments sake, lets say we put all our war money into education & the system is suddenly rich.

    I don't think it's a bad idea to extend the day. It'd cut down on daycare expenses. I'm all about banning homework, though. Lets say they add 2-3 hours onto the school day so kids get out at 5:30. They get home by the time their parents are home from work, no more latchkey kids. With the extra time they don't need homework & maybe some of that extra time allows them to extend some of the arts programs they've been cutting. So more time for music, art, phys ed. Right now (correct me if I'm wrong) one class a day is either gym, music or art.

    Sure it's a long day for a kid, but is it better than the same kid getting home at 4:00 and sitting in front of the TV for 2- hours before mom gets home?

    As far as all the opportunities offered for after school stuff, most kids don't benefit from them. I have one friend who has her two kids in after school programs at the YMCA in Colorado. $700 a month for 3:00 -7:00. Not everyone can afford that. Plus, lots of people just don't know about the opportunities out there. Blame the parents all you want, the kids still aren't benefiting. Making it mandatory, like school, & kids get a better shot at a better life.

    As far as shortening the summer, I'm not sure about that. Summer vaca is kind of sacred to me, lol. Maybe make the school year all year long but broken into three semesters 3 months long with a month in between or something? While we're at it, adults need more than 2 weeks vaca per year too. I think at least 4 weeks on av'g. But I digress...

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    King Sloth High House Chaos sir archely's Avatar
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    Default Re: Added Class time

    I have said before, and i'll say again, education is about the single most important issue to fight for and fund from taxpayer money. increasing the quality and quantity of education received by our population would have a positive effect on basically every other social issue facing us. i don't think this is an overstatement. i'm always stunned by the people in a community who fight against taxes for schools and educational programs while saying, "i don't have kids, why should i pay for that?" a higher educated populace improves everyone's lives.

    Anyway, i think that extending the school year is a damned fine idea. and i say this as someone who is likely to be in a teaching role in a couple of years. in fact, i'd be all for eliminating the long summer break altogether. a school year in the united states is about 180 days for k-12. Eliminating weekends, there are roughly 260 schoolable days in the year. I say go for adding about 40 more days of school to the calendar. That'd equate to adding 8 weeks. Still leaving enough time off for a 2 week break at summer, 2 weeks in december, a week each in fall and spring, and 10 extra days for random holidays. Even if younger grades have more breaks and you gradually work up to that schedule by 12th grade, you could effectively add an entire year to a child's school career. In fact, I very much like the idea of gradually lengthening the school year as kids get older. Not only do they have more information to cover at those levels (my own experience was more than one class which did not complete the required material because we ran out of time) but it is also better preparation for entering the working world.

    The biggest problem, of course, is funding it. Though it seems to me that if we can throw billions of dollars down the drain of a couple of useless wars, we could probably afford to fund this. Which is, again, probably the single most important issue to fund at all. I haven't actually seen an estimate, but i'm positive that the cost of doing this would be a good deal less than funding Iraq.

    I do disagree with lengthening the school day. However, from what I heard, that was partly a suggestion of simply having schools stay open later, not necessarily hold classes later. Children may be dismissed at the same time, but would not have to leave right at that time, and buildings may not be shut up right at 5 or whenever. I agree that mandatory lengthening of the school day is a bad idea. Extracurricular activities often take place in that period from about 3-5, and extending the school day would put those things further into the evening. An involved kid is going to be doing exactly what Kalle said, and home life would suffer. However, just keeping the buildings open longer is mostly an energy/staffing cost question. Having the building available as a safe place where kids can hang out, maybe use facilities they might not otherwise have at home, organize study groups, activities, etc., is a good idea for making kids comfortable with the idea of being in school not as a punishment or jail, but as a good place. Keeping schools open would be a way of providing a place for programs in the evening, using the already existing public infrastructure.

    And Kalle, i don't know where you heard Obama say families at or below the poverty line don't take the time to help/tutor their kids (in fact, i would be quite surprised to hear he said something like that, link?), but i can imagine that what was probably meant is that families at or below the poverty line simply don't have access to the same educational resources for their children as people with more money. And I think you proved the truth of that statement with your inability to find a free math program. It's not about wanting and trying to provide those extra tools for your children, it's about the fact that those making more money wouldn't have trouble finding programs, because they can simply pay for them. It's not about being down on poor parents, it's about breaking the cycle of poverty and levelling the playing field a bit. The way it is now, people with more wealth have access to better educations for their kids, and thus their children are more likely to make more money in their future.

    That said, i don't think this will go forward. At least, it won't go more than any baby steps. Those with political agendas to oppose anything Obama says he wants to do will make up some crazy reasons why we can't do it (most likely centering around taxation) and it won't get any farther than people screaming random bullshit about Nazi indoctrination schools at other people.
    Last edited by sir archely; September 28th, 2009 at 09:21.
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    Default Re: Added Class time

    A short reply since I'm cooking at the moment.

    We had/have 8 hours per day at school, apart from wednesday, when it's just half a day. On top of that there was the usual couple hours of homework. So leaving home at about 7:30 by bike, classes started at 8:20 am and ended at 5pm, iirc.
    Although our summer vacation are the months july and august, that might be longer than what's the norm in America.

    So, as someone who went through the regime I can say that it IS doable.
    Of course, our education was "free", so the cost of the amount of hours didn't really play part in the calculation.

    And just so you know, our parents always gave us a hard time, since they had a full day on wednesday AND half a day on saturday. So it can still be more, as I'm sure it is in yet other countries.

    And now back to my kitchen.
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  7. #7
    Hey! That's ME! AquaFizz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Added Class time

    ~cracks her knuckles~ Ahem...



    First, I agree with Arch. I'm pretty sure what Obama was suggesting wasn't that families below the poverty line choose not to help their kids with homework/studying. I think it's a combination of those families A) Not having access to funds/special programs and, also, B) those parents having to work more to keep their families afloat. For instance, if your child is having a super hard time with reading and you live below the poverty line, you probably can't afford tutors. Also, there are so many families where parents are working two jobs just to keep the bills paid and the food on the table-They certainly don't have time to help their kids as much as I'm sure they'd like. I'd, then, have to wonder how old his statistics were. Here's the thing: Right now, even lawyers are having hard times finding jobs. Ten, even five, years ago that wasn't the case. Most of the people who were suffering were people who didn't have as high an education. So, I can't help but wonder if that comment came from a statistic questioning the education level of parents below the poverty line. Where as, now, it's not unlikely for people with bachelors and masters degrees to also fall below the line. So, you probably still have the right to be offended, Kalle, but I honestly don't think Obama would ever question YOU of your parenting skills. You're super mom.

    Second, to the actual topic at hand. While I'm not opposed to the lengthening of the school year or the day, I think we're all right that it's more the quality of the education than the quantity. First theres the fact that state to state education isn't on par with each other. Hell, even county to county. Somehow, in third grade, I missed the intro to fractions...which really threw me off when I got to forth grade on the other side of the state and all my classmates already knew what they were doing. We need a more unified schedule of academics. Also, we just need to stop baying our kids. Seriously, in high school, we took english. As far as other languages, were were told this, "if you want to go to a four year college, you'll need to pass two years of another language. Otherwise, don't worry about it." How sad is that?! Spanish and Latin were both offered at my middle school but were not required or even promoted. And we spent way too much time on State history than anything else. Not only that, but teachers are expected to discipline their students as much as possible. Sending them to a dean or a Principal is always the last resort. Thus leading to tons of distractions in the class.

    Also, Arch, I think it's funny that you think the older you get the more time you should spend in school. While I understand that sentiment, I sort of feel like it should be the opposite. First, it's known that when you're younger, your brain absorbs more. It seems to me, then that when you're younger is the time to have more stuff introduced. I'm not saying we need to have solemn looking third graders with huge heavy backpacks and twelve hours in school. School can still be fun and there can still be recess, for goodness sake, but if you start with the basics when they're young, things will come a lot easier when they're older. Also, it's when they're younger that being home by themselves is the most worrisome. Instead of having parents try to pay for daycare between three and 5 or 6, why not just keep the kids around until then and have them continuing to learn. Even if maybe the last hours are more on an elective basis. For instance, let them/their parents chose which second or third language they should take during one hour and have the second hour be a time for tutoring/doing homework in the areas the children are struggling with the most. Then, as they get older, letting out at a more normal/earlier hour would allow them to get jobs and help their families. So, maybe not ALL kids get jobs to help their families but it wouldn't flippin' kill them to at least be able to buy most of their OWN clothes from flippin' Abercrombie and Fitch. And, it would certainly help those families who DO need their high schoolers' help.
    I still completely understand the reasons for wanting the opposite. It IS sad to think about an 8 year old being in school all day and never having any fun.

    Summer break...I'd have a hard time parting with that, too. And I know teachers would. That's when a lot of my teacher friends get second jobs to pay for other things. Or when they can actually schedule trips. Of course, there's also that commercial (about Sylvan Learning Center, I think) that says kids lose 20% or whatever it is while out on summer vacation. I sort of like the idea of smaller vacation times throughout the year. Of course, then, what will parents do with all those random weeks off? THEY certainly won't be out of work.

    Edit:
    I wrangled Corv into a conversation about this (which I'm sure he was thrilled about). I was saying that I didn't mind longer school days, either, if it meant kids came home with less homework. I got the story about how he walked up hill to school, spent twelve hours there, where he was also beaten, walked up hill home and then had homework. ( Slight exaggeration on my part, maybe.) And he swears he turned out just fine. In delving deeper we figured out the difference, though.

    So many times, in school, in *class* the teacher would go over a new theory or something in Math. She'd explain it to us, do a problem for us on the board and then give us five problems to do out of the book. Thirty minutes later, after she'd sat around grading papers for some other class or...reading a book, she'd give us the answers to those problems. She'd answer a couple questions and then send us home with 25 problems for homework. I, personally, usually walked out still clueless. We spent class time seeing the new material and home time learning the material. It's the exact opposite of how it should be.

    I'm fine with kids going to school longer, but they better be learning in school and just practicing when they come home. THEN, those 25 problems won't take so long and they'll still have time to go outside and play and be kids.
    Last edited by AquaFizz; September 28th, 2009 at 15:31.
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    Rebellious Witch Whore!! High House Dawn Amelia's Avatar
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    Default Re: Added Class time

    I remember when I was in high school and there was talk about schools that were "all year" and I was horrified by the idea. I do remember my mother liking the idea saying that in the real world nobody gets 2 1/2 months off and that I would get breaks like 3 weeks every couple of months. I still thought it horrible!

    Now, I think its a good idea, if it goes to what NF is saying, no homework, more art and music. It would cut down on the cost of childcare for people, if the kids ended school at the same time the parents were getting off work.
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    Quick! To the Volcano! High House Moon Eyreplenh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Added Class time

    Quote Originally Posted by sir archely View Post
    I have said before, and i'll say again, education is about the single most important issue to fight for and fund from taxpayer money. increasing the quality and quantity of education received by our population would have a positive effect on basically every other social issue facing us. i don't think this is an overstatement. i'm always stunned by the people in a community who fight against taxes for schools and educational programs while saying, "i don't have kids, why should i pay for that?" a higher educated populace improves everyone's lives
    Yes, that was what I was trying to say as well The old formulating, and getting to the point bit that gave me trouble again.

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    major major major major dark fuschia's Avatar
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    Default Re: Added Class time

    YIKES you are all such hard asses!

    I think extending the school day and school year would be TERRIBLE. MY GOD people can't you remember how awful school was???? If grades are slipping then quality needs improvement not quantity.

    And keeping kids off the street is a terriblen reason. Schools as babysitters is what has demolished the standards and quality of education in the first place. This would only make it worse.

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    King Sloth High House Chaos sir archely's Avatar
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    Default Re: Added Class time

    Quote Originally Posted by dark fuschia View Post
    YIKES you are all such hard asses!

    I think extending the school day and school year would be TERRIBLE. MY GOD people can't you remember how awful school was???? If grades are slipping then quality needs improvement not quantity.

    And keeping kids off the street is a terriblen reason. Schools as babysitters is what has demolished the standards and quality of education in the first place. This would only make it worse.
    I would agree that quality needs to improve as well, but i don't think that quality and quantity are mutually exclusive. Neither is quantity worthless in learning. Repetition is a very useful learning tool, and it requires time; the more the better, usually.

    Also, i'm not sure the schools as babysitters thing is exactly what's being proposed. At least, what if i put it this way? Sure, schools as babysitters during time when subject learning is supposed to be taking place is not a good thing. But using the existing infrastructure of the school system to provide a place for kids to congregate under some limited supervision, do activities, and have a "safe" place to be until their parents are no longer working for the day seems like a decent idea to me. At 3 (or whatever) the school turns into a local community center. Kids could be involved in intramural sports with low barriers to entry and less strictness than the intermural versions, community service projects or even just have an open study hall. I don't know how practically applicable it is though.

    As for being a hardass... something has to change within the american educational system. I speak of the american system because a)this is what i'm familiar with but more b)this is where the change is proposed. I personally think that we need to at least double the education budget, at least, with a good chunk of that going to make teaching more competitive income-wise. Even a modest increase in teaching salary in the US would make it much more attractive as a career choice. Not that that is a great reason to get into teaching, but it might tip the balance a little bit. 1 in 7 adult americans can't read. and that's just the tip of the iceberg regarding the sad state of american education. Our 2010 education budget is 6% as big as our "defense" budget.
    Last edited by sir archely; October 7th, 2009 at 09:11.
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    Mistress of Shadows High House Moon night faerie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Added Class time

    I LOVE arch's proposal to keep the schools open as community centers. I'd even go one further & say schools should be open as a "safe haven" 24 hours, like churches used to be. Lets say you were jumped & got beaten up or raped or something and it's midnight. You don't want to go home for whatever reason or to the cops. Where do you go? School as a familiar place might be an appealing option.

    Not a mandatory thing to babysit but a place to hang out with your friends till your folks are home or till dinner time. It's the easiest place to keep kids safe. It's a place you could spend time with the boyfriend/girlfriend you are forbidden to see. Safer than hanging out in the woods or in a parking lot.

    I say keep the gym open till 8pm so kids can play ball or whatever, and the library for kids that may want to read or study & after that keep it to the lunchroom or something.

    It would create jobs, too. Keeping the doors locked and a gatekeeper to check school IDs before letting kids in. A guidance councilor or nurse or something and a supervisor at least.

    In jr high when we were 12-14 my best friend & I would walk home together till our paths separated. Then we'd hang at that corner for at least two hours, sometimes past dark, just talking & singing & hanging out. Just the two of us. Had we had the option of just staying at school & sitting in the library or at a lunch table, we'd have done that, no question. It'd have kept us warm on many a day when we otherwise were hanging out in the snow/rain because we didn't want to go home alone.
    Last edited by night faerie; October 7th, 2009 at 11:31.

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    major major major major dark fuschia's Avatar
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    Default Re: Added Class time

    Quote Originally Posted by sir archely View Post
    1 in 7 adult americans can't read. and that's just the tip of the iceberg regarding the sad state of american education. Our 2010 education budget is 6% as big as our "defense" budget.
    I agree, there is something seriously wrong with the education system here too, but that is EXACTLY why extending school hours horrify me. It's clear that children are spending large ammounts of time at a place that doesn't stimulate them enough to learn anything. As far as I am concerned it would be better if those kids were doing their own thing on the streets. Then at least some might learn to become excellent fishermen, master hustlers, help with their families incomes etc. Yes I would rather they weren't exposed to the dangers and corruption of the modern world but I am making a point. Its INHUMANE to subject children to long periods of boredom when nothing comes out of it... If people aren't learning properly after six hours a day it's not going to work after eight or nine hours. There's something intrinsically wrong there.

    And yeah that probably has everything to do with low budgets and the concurrent reduction in teaching quality due to strain on the staff. Also I do think it's true that school is a better environment for alot of kids than their own homes, especially if they are alone their and this is where I also think the community stuff you guys have suggested would be really good.

    But I honestly think its way too long a day for a child. I think Obama is just bitter cos his mum woke him at 5am for lessons every day. Seriously, that ain't worth it even if you do become president if you ask me Children should have PLENTY of time to rest and have fun and also time with their families if those families are actually available. Life is about much more than reading (lol arch with your house full of books it occurs to me maybe you disagree with this?).

    wow I am in such a soap box mood lately

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    King Sloth High House Chaos sir archely's Avatar
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    Default Re: Added Class time

    i definitely agree life is about more than reading... but i think reading is certainly a very enjoyable part of life.

    and i do agree with you about extending the day. this is what i said above:

    Quote Originally Posted by me
    I do disagree with lengthening the school day. However, from what I heard, that was partly a suggestion of simply having schools stay open later, not necessarily hold classes later. Children may be dismissed at the same time, but would not have to leave right at that time, and buildings may not be shut up right at 5 or whenever. I agree that mandatory lengthening of the school day is a bad idea. Extracurricular activities often take place in that period from about 3-5, and extending the school day would put those things further into the evening. An involved kid is going to be doing exactly what Kalle said, and home life would suffer. However, just keeping the buildings open longer is mostly an energy/staffing cost question. Having the building available as a safe place where kids can hang out, maybe use facilities they might not otherwise have at home, organize study groups, activities, etc., is a good idea for making kids comfortable with the idea of being in school not as a punishment or jail, but as a good place. Keeping schools open would be a way of providing a place for programs in the evening, using the already existing public infrastructure.
    My preferred extension of school is more days, not longer days. what i found puts Oz at 196 school days per year. You've already got 16 more days than we do here. that's three extra weeks of school time. I also don't think that school has to be the enemy of rest, fun or life. School as a simple read this, then read this, then spit it out, is a problem with the methodology of education and also needs to be adjusted. But in the mean time, I do think we can improve the educational system by simple extension of the school year. Part of being a kid is school. Education is not the enemy. I think most kids start off inredibly eager to attend school, and somewhere along the line we lose it. The problem is that improving school in any fashion involves increasing the amount of money we devote to it, which is a sadly unpopular idea, at least here in the US. Ironically, it's probably because people don't have enough education to understand why increasing the education budget would be good for them (and everyone). Okay, maybe that was a bit cynical, but you get my point.
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  15. #15
    major major major major dark fuschia's Avatar
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    Default Re: Added Class time

    Yeah I think Australia has a good length school year, and its nicely broken up, in to four roughly even semesters each with a two week break except over Christmas when it's six weeks. I used to burn with envy when I would watch movies and read books about Americans with their summer holidays... (I still do actually) hehe. But realistically its probably better here. However having said that America is actually kicking our ass at literacy and numeracy levels etc and always has.

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