Monday, February 05, 2007

More Schooling

The school I went to had nine forty five minute periods per day - except Friday when we had eight. So, with assembly and break, I was in school from 8:15 to 3:30. Compared to some folks I knew in other schools, this was a pretty long day. God knows, there were days when it felt like forever. So I am all for spending a decent amount of time in school, but my initial reaction to the idea of twelve hours was it was the nuttiest yet. Even nuttier than 'year round' school. Crazier than mayoral control or just about every other suggestion I have heard for radically overhauling the school system.
Part of it is that I think it's a little like dieting - we know what works: dedicated, well-paid teachers with resources and reasonable class sizes. Right? - works every time. But we somehow focus on the whole well maybe this school over here is succeeding because they go to school for twelve hours. (And hey, if it's working for them, great. But I - lover of learning - can only imagine my brain would have shriveled up like an over full sponge at least once a week. All day training stresses me out. And that's only eight hours.)
And, as one analyst in the study pointed out, a lot of times a longer day doesn't equate to greater learning time since there is a lot of other junk stuffed into the school day.
But, in my humble opinion it isn't really a twelve hour school day. The school profiled has a study hall after dinner, so kids, for the most part, go home with homework finished. So, one imagines, the lack of distractions while studying in addition to the small class size, might have more to do with their success that the length of the school day, although separating them might not be as useful. And certainly this plan would benefit kids who go home to empty houses and therefore have greater freedom to, you know, not do your homework. I didn't go home to an empty house until high school and I was still really good at not doing my homework, but nonetheless. And certainly if I had been plunked in a study hall with nothing else to do, my chances of doing my homework would have been greater. I think parents would also love the idea of their children coming home with homework all or mostly done. Which could lead to all sorts of happiness. I don't think its the right solution for everyone, but it is growing on me.

Thanks to DCist for the link.